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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/17/2005 Archived Entry: "Gallery review: Avenue 50 Studio - De la Sota and Montoya"

Beyond the Horizon
Gallery review by Lui Sanchez

The Avenue 50 Studio presents Claro Oscuro: Metaphors, an exhibition of painters Raoul De la Sota and Andres Montoya. At near opposite ends of the career spectrum, De la Sota is an established painter whose work is well documented in Los Angeles and Andres Montoya is an emerging L.A. artist.

De la Sota’s mountain series hangs on the west wall of the gallery. Mountain tops and ranges cascade along the wall. De la Sota reflects on the San Francisco Peaks, Mt. Hesperus, Popocateptl and others, as sacred ground from which he views the sky and the cosmos. The mountains serve as pedestals holding the universe above.

It is however, the skies that take focus in most of his paintings. His skies and horizons are richly painted with colorful vistas, clouds bursting at sunset or deep navy hues spotted with constellations. He embellishes these vistas with ancient, native American cultural iconography. Images of Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl give rise to the stars suggesting that such cultural language was not developed by humans, but rather provided for us by a universe that would ensure civilizations throughout all millennia. De la Sota observes that we choose what becomes precious to us, to the people of the past and, perhaps, of the future: our cultural significance.

In Study for San Francisco Peaks and San Francisco Peaks with Kachinas, the cultural language of the cosmos finds ground. Sketches, drawings, scratches of Hopi, Navajo, or Aztec characters provide the texture of the mountains. They drift ghost-like on the mountain terrain and or pose as markers for a wayward climber. The skies beam quietly as De la Sota finds truth in the mountain crevasses. Here, De la Sota’s fascination with the cosmos gains balance as his closer inspection of these mountain pedestals gives strength to his painting and provides a solid base to ponder.

In contrast to De la Sota’s paintings of outward spacial investigations, Andres Montoya moves inward into an emotional realm. On the east wall of the gallery, Montoya’s paintings form a pattern of color and composition of portraits and figures in quiet moments. The vibrancy of these paintings are not so much due to his rich color palettes: powdered reds and oranges, grounded purples and browns, but to his brushstrokes which elicit investigations of his subjects, their skin, their clothing, and the air that surrounds them. His brushstrokes are quiet examinations of these elements seeking truth in a flesh tone or a fabric weave. Consequently, this introspection leads to unapologetic, yet humble emotion, as found in the solemnity of First Street Bridge and Blinded. His brushwork is controlled and searching in Temptation of the Sentries as if asking with the dog in the painting, "What is behind the curtain...and these solemn journeys?" The brushwork ultimately provides no answers and subsequently the emotion in these journeys fade away into carefully placed horizons.

Montoya’s painting, however, is strongest when the brush takes over, or even fights back against him as it does in, Ni de Aqui, ni de Alla, -- Neither From Here Nor There and Protecting My Heart. Here the paint and brush challenge the painter, move him and the spectator from introspection to immersion where the emotion comes through. It may be a solemn emotion for Montoya, but suddenly we feel, rather than just observe. The colors and brushwork act as the vehicles for his investigations rather than the tools. So much so that when you go back to his perfectly executed Bound with its controlled formality and steadfastness, the painting becomes the metaphor for the artist; a bound figure residing in memory. A painting like Ni de Aqui, ni de Alla then hopefully releases Montoya outside the bounds of sublime yet safe metaphors into actual sense and perhaps beyond the horizons Montoya has placed.

For more information on the show that runs until May 23, 2005, please visit Avenue 50 Studio or the interviews with Raoul De la Sota and Andres Montoya. On a personal note, if you're in the LA area, I urge you to see this show in person because these .jpgs do not do these works justice. Ed.

Replies: 2 comments

De La Sota's work is beautiful and brilliant.

Posted by Lauren Ceglia @ 05/19/2005 10:40 AM PST

Mr. De la Sota's work reflects a deep knowledge of the cosmos and his affection for and belief in the subject. It was fullfilling to see his work. I hope to see more.

Posted by Estela Goldsmith @ 05/23/2005 12:55 PM PST

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