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Elmer Guevara at Residency Art


A new series of figurative paintings and drawings by LA-native Elmer Guevara is on view at Residency Art in Inglewood. Guevara’s parents fled El Salvador for Los Angeles in the 1980s, a decade before the artist was born, and the exhibition muses on what inherited traumas influenced the artist himself amid his Angeleno childhood. Across the paintings, ghostly imprints and shadows imply a resurfacing of past memories, while Lakers jerseys and McDonalds boxes plant the work in the present.

In several pieces, painted imagery climbs across the figure’s arms, like tattoos that hold montages of past formative memories. “Passed onto Him” is a portrait of the artist’s parents holding young Guevara as a swaddled baby. The mother’s arm in the foreground is laced with imagery from her past — a burning village, portraits of loved ones — that quite literally passes to her child through her touch (we see the same imagery painted across the baby’s plum leg). While at times a bit literal, Guevara’s layered and collaged paintings are embedded with emotional resonance and poignantly speak to the generational legacies that influence us all.

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Photo: Elmer Guevara, “Passed on to Him,” 2020. Image courtesy of the artist and Residency Art.