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Raul Guerrero at David Kordansky Gallery
July 17, 2021 - August 28, 2021
In “Fata Morgana,” Raul Guerrero’s paintings blend history, personal narrative, and surrealism to reimagine histories of the American West. Using a blend of imagery pulled from Southern California, South Dakota, and Latin America, the artist mines colonial histories through the lens of Hollywood and his own Mestizo ancestry.
In one series, the artist focuses on the settler-colonial conflict between 1832 and 1885, depicting the South Dakota tribes and locales that are often pictured in Western films, collapsing history with America’s narrow cinematic retelling of it. Other paintings focus on bars throughout California that served as hubs for creative activity, such as Chez Jay and Musso and Frank’s. In one of Guerrero’s surreal recreations of these haunts, he superimposes watch faces over the heads of the bar’s patrons, adding a whimsical flair to the exhibition. Meanwhile, a large scale painting pictures a hotdog in a cardboard tray with mustard and onions arranged to create a smiley face. These playful paintings contrast the devastating colonial histories that the other paintings mine, and wink towards Guerrero’s own use of magical realism that allow his approach to historical subject matter to expand into new imagined realities.
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Photo: Raul Guerrero at David Kordansky Gallery (installation view). Photo by Jeff McLane / Courtesy David Kordansky Gallery.