José Lerma


silicone on canvas
60 x 48 inches

José Lerma dissects, reinterprets, and riffs on the historical portrait in his paintings, sculptures, and installations. Throughout history, the genre has served many functions – to document, valorize, celebrate, and memorialize – though to contemporary viewers, only the vaguest impressions remain, and in many cases time has shifted our perspective on these figures. In Portrait Of Angelo Mariani, cut-out silicone brushstrokes form a colorful portrait with a sculptural surface. Though a handful of historically significant Angelo Mariani’s exist, Lerma’s portrait (with red eyes and drop below the nose) is likely a reference to the French chemist and entrepreneur who invented the first cocawine (wine treated with cocoa leaves) in 1863, thereby introducing cocaine to the Western world. No doubt a complex historical figure, Mariani is often considered the “grandfather of Coco-Cola,” as a non-alcoholic version of the wine was the original version of the popular soft drink. José Lerma was born in Spain, raised in Puerto Rico, and currently lives in Chicago and New York. Lerma’s work has been included in exhibitions at numerous institutions, including El Museo del Barrio, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; CAM Raleigh; Institute of Puerto Rican Culture; Milwaukee Art Museum; and Institut Valencia d’Art Modern. BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: José Lerma is currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago