The domestic, the ordinary, the mundane—certainly, there is no dearth of these subjects in the visual arts. Painters will pluck objects from their homes—apples, flowers, a cup, a book—and attempt to cast them in a new light. More often than not, such experiments do not yield extraordinary results.
But there’s something very fresh about the way Phoenix, Arizona-based Mexican-American artist Larry Madrigal elevates that which is commonplace. He freezes onto the canvas not mere objects but little narratives, a style that renders his work particularly delightful.
Mom, with keys in her hands, is ready to rush to work while dad and baby are still asleep. At night, when mom and baby are resting in another room, a hungry dad opens the fridge, Coke bottle, cereal bowl around. A canine couple copulate somewhere in a background, a bird drinks from a pool upon which sails a paper boat. A bra lies near the sofa. Inspiring affection, these scenes—that present the thrill, pressures, weight and chaotic splendour of modern urban family life—mirror the very existence of the viewer even though they are derived from the artist’s personal experiences.
Larry writes beautifully: “The mundane reminds me of our commonality and the relatable nature of the human experience. Ordinary routines are infused with issues of identity, responsibility, ambition, and purpose. I see the commonplace as an arena for sacred reflection on the complex nature of being, and a platform to explore painting’s power to promote empathy and wonder.”
Larry sees the world as a “meaningful and precarious venture”. He is interested in the daily rhythms of life, and how they are entangled with timeless dramatic themes and connected to the overall human struggle.
The work also explores the issues of being an artist in a context where political, social and personal expectations are present altogether. The artist continues: “Essentially, my work deals with balance, both visually and conceptually. This is especially true in a day where constant deciphering of information and ideas cut through our daily lives. I am also inspired by comedy, and its common use of familiarity to reveal deeper and more complex realities that are overlooked or not fully considered.
“Thus, I paint scenes such as morning routines, fitting rooms, domestic activities and other seemingly unimportant moments, that when suspended, reveal hidden questions about the human condition. I often depict myself in these situations as a form of self-portraiture and display of vulnerability. My work also reflects my own internal crisis of masculinity.”
Larry was born in 1986 in Los Angeles. He recently completed his MFA at Arizona State University. His work has been featured in the exhibitions “When You Waked Up the Buffalo”, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2020); “Painting the Figure Now II”, Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, Wasau, Wisconsin (2019); and “Body Language: Figuration in Modern and Contemporary Art”, curated by Julie Sasse, Tuscon Museum of Art, Tuscon, Arizona (2017). He has been a finalist for the 2018 and 2020 AXA XL Art Prize and a recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Artist Grant. His first solo exhibition, “Scattered Daydream”, opened with Nicodim Gallery in September 2020.
Warning: Nudity and sexual content.