Los Angeles Times - The hybrid art of Einar and Jamex de la Torre
November 07, 2010|By Scarlet Cheng
The brothers' work is a Baroque mix of the high and the low, the sacred and the profane, Mexico and America. They're the focus of a retrospective at the Craft and Folk Art Museum.
High and low culture, the sacred and the profane, the esoteric and the pop collide in the works of Einar and Jamex de la Torre, brothers who have collaborated closely as artists for 20 years.
Although they started working in glass, shaping figurative work that often borrowed themes from their Mexican roots, they have moved toward larger sculpture and installation work, several of which anchor their retrospective, "Borderlandia: Cultural Topography by Einar and Jamex de la Torre" at the Craft and Folk Art Museum.
Their recent work combines Mexican and American culture with a dash of Asian.
"Our work deals a lot with hybridity on so many levels," says Einar, the younger, more talkative brother, during an exhibition walkthrough just before the opening. Jamex stands to one side, gazing about to make sure things are in place.
Around us are wildly colorful glass figures on pedestals and inside showcases, plus larger works such as their versions of "The Last Judgment" in altar form ("La Reconquista"), an Aztec-inspired calendar made of turning wheels with "hearts" dangling from the sides ("La Belle Epoch"), a pair of electronic totems loaded with found objects ("Tula Frontera Norte" and "Tula Frontera Sur") and a surrealistic wall mural of bowls and platters piled with food from several cultures ("Pho'Zole").
In the glass sculpture "Double Happiness K.O.," a laughing golden Buddha also looks a bit like a sumo wrestler; in "Pho'Zole," the artists photo-collaged images of a field of the Vietnamese noodle soup and other dishes from overhead.
"Food sometimes is the first step of acculturation," Jamex observes. "It dawned on us when we were in San Jose in a restaurant eating pho — we realized everyone in the restaurant was Mexican, eating a soup that was somewhat familiar to us."
Their signature style is to encrust surfaces and cram spaces with objects and images. "Some people say our work is Baroque, and we have been influenced by the Baroque," says Einar. "When the Spanish came to America, they were in that period, so Latin America was influenced by that period."
The funhouse quality of the installation is deliberate, says Maryna Hrushetska, the museum director. "We wanted to create an amusement park atmosphere." The calendar resembles a Ferris wheel, she points out, and the sounds of mechanisms grinding and pinging echo throughout the exhibition galleries.