Artists: Elmer Guevara and Robert Nehemiah
Media: Paints (Arcylic, Oil)
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Websites: They both don’t have websites.
About The Artists
CSULB undergraduates Elmer Guevara and Robert Nehemiah are both working towards their BFA degrees in the School of Art’s Drawing and Painting Program. Elmer Guevara is a transfer student from East Los Angeles College and Robert Nehemiah is a transfer student from Rio Honda Community College. Elmer Guevara had always known he wanted to be an artist. Meanwhile, Robert Nehemiah grew up drawing. Once he entered high school he was stuck in the notion that he needed to find a “real job” once he graduates. This lead him to wanting to become a firefighter. In the end, he realized that his true passion is art.
Immaterial is a collaborative exhibition between Guevara and Nehemiah. The differences between their art styles is very easy to see when you first step into the exhibition.
Guevara’s art is painted onto easels. The color palette consists of earth colors with some hints of bright colors. The interesting thing about his paintings is that he also includes different materials on the easel in order to give his paintings more dimension to it. In one of his paintings, he used actual denim where his subject’s jeans are and he then painted over the denim. The content of his art features distorted paintings of the homeless people he has met.
Nehemiah’s work is painted on jagged materials. The materials differ from painting to painting. These materials include: cardboard, wood, metal with rusted edges, and tarp. The colors he uses for his paintings are mainly earth colors. His color palette matches the material he uses to paint on. The content of his art features the people that helped inspired him for this exhibition.
The word “immaterial” is usually used to call something irrelevant. It is easy to see in this gallery when Guevara and Nehemiah both have the same sort of message. Guevara’s art focuses on a certain group of irrelevant people while Nehemiah’s art focuses on irrelevant objects.
Guevara’s artwork criticizes the fact that the homeless are often ignored. As a society, we often try our best to fight homelessness but how often do people actually go out and talk to homeless people? Most people tend to look away from homeless peole when they walk by them. For this exhibition, Guevara interviewed several homeless people and managed to include things like their personality and where they came from in his paintings. It’s a small gesture, but the fact that he named each painting after the homeless people he met strengthens his messages. By naming his paintings after the people he met, he acknowledges their existence and he introduces them to the audience. This ends up making them more relevant and less invisible.
Nehemiah’s artwork puts the important people in his life on unimportant material. While most artists might want to paint their loved ones on a nice canvas, Nehemiah paints them on whatever he can find. The people that he painted are the ones that influenced him to not become so materialistic. By not using a normal canvas, it is a beautiful way to show what he learned and what he values. If he painted them on a nice canvas, it wouldn’t do his inspirations any justice. Nehemiah mentioned that his process involved finding the material first and then finding which person to paint on it. While he painted he noticed two things. One thing he noticed was that there was a connection between the material and the person he painted. Another thing he noticed was that the surface he paints on and the people he is painting are both temporary.
Synthesis / My Experience
When I first walked in the gallery I was amazed by the how neatly organized the gallery was. It’s a small thing but I loved how Guevara’s and Nehemiah’s paintings alternated places. This made the gallery nice to look at because instead of having all of Guevara’s neat paintings on one wall and Nehemiah’s jagged paintings on another wall, they are put together in a neat alternating pattern that somehow manages to balance out. I also really enjoyed the concept of this exhibition. In fact, the more I wrote about this exhibition, the more I ended up really liking their artwork! At first, I thought this exhibition was just filled with paintings of people they know. When I got to hear about the backstory of each painting, I appreciated each painting a lot more than I originally did. When I look back at Guevara’s art, it’s almost as if I know something about the homeless people he interviewed. When I look at Nehemiah’s art, I have a deeper understanding on why he chose the materials he did. The two of them did a really good job collaborating for the exhibition and I felt like their art fit really well together.