Fights in the neighborhood, icons of (imaginary) patron saints, collections of vinyls and magazines and a whole lot of lucha libre wrestling masks – artist Sergio Teran explores the Mexican-American identity in Los Angeles through paintings that combine three colliding realities: the past, the present and imagined experiences (as in an occasional UFO-type spaceship).
Beliefs, interests, the mess and frustrations of daily life unfold before the viewer in colourful imagery that depicts realism with a hint of dreamy fantasy.
“I would like people who encounter my work to see that it is nothing out of the ordinary, quite normal and boring,” says Sergio. “We believe in family, some form of god and immortality, and we wrestle with understanding the connections we have to those things. Also, the narrative that is taking place in these pieces is based on everyday experiences of people who happen to be people of color. My goal is to depict those I know with honor, telling their stories with wisdom and dignity.”
Born in 1974 in Los Angeles, Sergio received a BFA in Illustration and Fine Arts from the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasedena. In 2000, he moved to NYC and attended New York University, obtaining a graduate degree in Studio Art and Painting in 2002.
The impulse to create goes back to his childhood. Sergio writes: “I was raised in a working-class household of immigrant parents. My mother was a seamstress and my father, a welder/ironworker. They both relied on the mastery of their skills to put food on the table. The exposure to their labor carried over into my psyche. Consequently, I favor a physicality to art-making, and I try to imbue the art object with that quality, that is, where marks echo gesture, layers are built up through various stages of media over long periods, and surfaces express diverse textures and treatments.”
Sergio draws inspiration from various disciplines and art forms. He is fond of German Expressionism, Existentialism, Surrealism and Los Angeles 80s Punk and Skate culture. The figures he admires include Edward Hopper (for his psychological emptiness and interiors), Frida Kahlo (for her courage and confidence in paint), Gregory Gillespie (helped Sergio embrace the clutter of life), Stanley Kubrick (for fearlessness in subject, compositions and lighting), Akira Kurosawa (for his movement and visual poetry) and Jean-Luc Godard (for his experimental attitude and disregard for the norm).
Images used with permission.