Alex Becerra

Waldeinsamkeit

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With unforgiving stilettoes trudging deeply into European Modernist painting, Alex Becerra’s paintings are often and openly skanky. Like trapped skin flicks, Becerra’s nude figures are both twisted onto and falling out of their implied, finger-thick borders on the canvas. Nearby, cowboy boots doubling as vases and shoes cradling themselves begin to take on erotic valences just as seemingly impossible bodily contortions finally collapse into abstraction that somehow still arouses. Mirrors from nowhere insist on offering soft-porn “reflections” onto canvases that also threaten to swallow viewers lured all the way up to their edge.

Overall, by immersing himself in experimental music, film, sculpture, and performance while simultaneously embracing and challenging traditions within European modern painting, Becerra is teaching himself to play deeply and find metonymic techniques to undermine the use of symbols to represent class, gender, or ethnic backgrounds without betraying home.

Text: Darla Migan

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Mit unnachgiebigen Stilettoes, die tief in die Malerei der europäischen Moderne einschreiten, sind Alex Becerras Bilder oft und offen lasterhaft. Wie gefangene Hautfetzen sind Becerras nackte Figuren sowohl auf ihre angedeuteten, fingerdicken Ränder auf der Leinwand gedrückt als auch aus ihnen herausgefallen. Daneben beginnen Cowboy-Stiefel, die als Vasen und sich selbst wiegende Schuhe erscheinen, erotische Valenzen anzunehmen. Die scheinbar unmöglichen körperlichen Verzerrungen, die schließlich in eine Abstraktion zusammenfallen, schaffen es dennoch zu erregen. Spiegel, die aus dem Nichts kommen, bestehen darauf, Soft-Porno “Reflexionen” auf Leinwänden zu präsentieren, die auch den an den Rand gelockten Betrachter zu verschlingen drohen.

Indem Becerra sich in experimentelle Musik, Film, Skulptur und Performance vertieft und gleichzeitig Traditionen der europäischen modernen Malerei annimmt und herausfordert, lernt er selbst, in die Tiefe zu gehen und metonymische Techniken zu finden, um die Verwendung von Symbolen zur Darstellung von Klasse, Geschlecht oder ethnischen Hintergründen zu untergraben, ohne die eigene Herkunft zu verleugnen.

Text: Darla Migan

Alex Becerra and Demian Kern

Acuérdate De Mi

Weiss Berlin is proud to present Acuérdate De Mi (“Remember Me”) featuring painters’ Alex Becerra and Demian Kern’s first joint presentation. Their individual and collaborative works were produced during time spent together in the summer of 2017 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf.

Having met in Los Angeles several years ago, the painters formed a relationship that is marked by generosity and the love of each other, music, and painting. Born in 1989 and 1990, both Becerra and Kern’s work is indicative of the young artists’ deep engagement with modernist tropes and desires as well as the rich, variegate history of figuration in 20th century painting. Their approaches to the work in Acuérdate De Mi evidence a awareness of privileges and opportunities connected to gender, ethnicity, and class. Both Becerra and Kern work in a variety of media to develop their practice of painting from within which they choose materials, colors, and compositions that consciously address the formal and historical framework of the medium using a range of methods to heighten the effect of painted surfaces – as well as their place within this history.

Becerra’s picture planes are often heavy with shiny, massy forms of oil paint occasionally revealing gessoed canvas and often depicting classical subject matter such as still lifes or nudes. The practice of draftsmanship is integral to his process and in this body of work, the highlighting of graphic elements such as drawing and sketching in oil paintings is reflective of Becerra’s commitment to the essence of this classical medium. This work happily complicates the history of European modernism: Behind the windshield of a painted green Mercedes 600, a vehicle that embodied desire for luxury goods across class boundaries when it was produced between 1963 to 1981, we see sketch-like renderings of gender-neutral figures in a light brown color. A thick ink drawing with a background of a typical decorative chain pattern popular among Latino gang members shows a figure with a large hat, long dark mustache, and a clown nose, referring to the clown face mask tattoos popular in Chicano aesthetics. The figure is wearing the pants of a zoot suit, a garment popular among African-American, Filipino-American, and Latino men since the 1940s and controversial in it’s association with organized crime, rebellion, extravagance, and male flamboyance. The figure’s chest is emblazoned with the words “Berlin” in a calligraphic style referencing the 19th century German Fraktur typeface that is heavily used in aesthetics originating from diverse nightclub fashions.The painting The Middle Ages showing two male and one female figure from behind on a walk into Tiergarten expresses the idolization of the middle ages that were concurrent to industrialization and the rise of urban entertainment culture such as cabaret and striptease.

Kern’s spatial compositions are connected to his sculptural practice as well as the aspects of precision and performance in his practice of electronic music. His paintings display a precise use of and acrylic and oil paint to carefully render recurrent motifs such as tools, instruments, and humanoid shapes. Interested in the relationship of the human to the machine –automobiles and square-shaped figures have been recurrent motifs since his show MASCHINE1 – paired with a frequent use of the color pink. Machines in Kern’s constructions don’t evoke the sense of mechanic antagonism, they don’t appear aggressive, instead they reflect tender emotional states. In Kern’s work, bodies appear only in an androgynous form as two-dimensional shapes that appear to be moved, or hanging. The pinkish bodies or outfits alluded to, for instance in the painting Bummeln 2, are subtly dandyish in their appearance and gesture. Their posture denotes nonchalance or sadness, a chalk inscription of the word “Chef” (“boss) on the chest of the body in an analogous black painting, Untitled, appears less assertive than fantastic and unsure. Shut The Lites Off, a painting showing abstracted single family homes in a grid with deep lightless windows is an homage musician and founder of the record label Subject Detroit, Eric Dulan. whose song by the same title was released in 1998. The conceal and intimate reveal of melancholy in Kern’s paintings, in connection with their concurrent and insistently colorful scheme lets them bare a sweet, quiet emotional immediacy and reticence. Doubt, fear of failure – those are the sensitivities Kern’s works manifests, protects and shows.
Alex Becerra (*1989) lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been shown at Artist Curated Projects (Los Angeles), the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), Shane Campbell (Chicago). His work has been covered in the Los Angeles Times, Frieze, Zoo Magazine, and Modern Painters. Becerra plays in the band Los Tres Pericos and will be giving tattoos based on his drawings before the opening of the show.

Demian Kern (*1990) lives and works in Vienna. He studied at Berlin’s Kunsthochschule Weissensee and his work has been shown at Adler (Düsseldorf), Experimentalsystem (Berlin), and Kunsthalle Bozen (Bozen). Kern is also known as electronic musician C.Comberti and owner of the music label Tresen. He will be playing music at the opening

Alex Becerra

Yes Yes Yes & Pink Flamingo

April 29 to June 4,2016

Tattooing from Drawing*
April 29, 2016
20 h – late


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We are proud to present Yes Yes Yes & Pink Flamingo, Alex Becerra’s first exhibition with Weiss Berlin. This new body of works comprises paintings, airbrush drawings, and sculptural works. His viciously grotesque universe clearly locates itself in the history of European, and yes, German, painting. Alex Becerra’s picture planes are heavy with unbounded, massy forms of oil paint. Working in traditional figurative genres, his still lifes, portraits, and nudes have been developed from an incessant practice of drawing in various media including graphite, ink, ballpoint pen, or airbrush. The works’ depth and weight has been built up in multiple layers by a process of an adventurous and determined search for the right palette, the right composition, the right line. Paint has been thoughtfully applied and reworked; the airbrush gun was operated with masterly tenderness and expertise.

In its intensification of modernist tropes the group of paintings in Yes Yes Yes & Pink Flamingo brings expressive gesture and emphatic materiality to the discipline of painting along with references to macho clichés and occasional obscenities. Beer bottle sculptures are scattered about illustrations of everyday objects, female genitalia, auto repair shops, and guns. At the same time, Becerra’s work cannot help but display sensitivity, vulnerability, intimacy, and desire. Portrayed in a lusciously green forest, Fletch, Becerra’s white German shepherd, keeps the shady nocturnal figures depicted in the other works company.

Alex Becerra (*1989 in Piru, California) lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been shown at ltd los angeles; Artist Curated Projects, Los Angeles and at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and has been covered in the Los Angeles Times, Frieze, Zoo Magazine, and Modern Painters. Alex Becerra plays in the band Los Tres Pericos and will be giving tattoos based on his drawings on the opening weekend of the show.

*In context of the exhibition, Alex Becerra will offer black and white tattoos based on his drawings. For more information or appointments, please contact Weiss Berlin. Both walk-ins and appointments are welcome.

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Wir freuen uns, die Ausstellung Yes Yes Yes & Pink Flamingo mit Werken des Künstlers Alex Becerra zu präsentieren. Diese neue Werkgruppe umfaßt Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Kleinskulpturen. Becerras lasterhaft groteske Werke sind klar in der Geschichte der europäischen, ja deutschen, Malereitradition verankert. Die Bildflächen der Gemälde, deren Sujets aus klassischen figurative Genres stammen, sind schwer von scheinbar grenzenlosen, pastosen Massen von Ölfarbe. Die Stillleben, Portraits und Akte entstehen gleichzeitig aus einer unaufhörlichen Auseinandersetzung mit dem Medium der Zeichnung in Graphit, Tusche, Kreide, oder Kugelschreiber. Gewicht und Stärke werden in Becerras Arbeiten in einem Prozess des abenteuerlichen Suchens nach der richtigen Farbpalette, der richtigen Komposition, der richtigen Linie aufgebaut. Farbe wird bedacht aufgebracht und bearbeitet, die Luftdruckpistole wird mit Zartheit und Präzision bedient.

In ihrer formalen und inhaltlichen Intensivierung moderner Ausdrucksformen verbinden die Werke der Ausstellung expressiven Gestus und emphatische Materialität mit machohaften Klischees und gelegentlicher Obszönität. Bierflaschenskulpturen stehen inmitten der Illustrationen von Alltagsgegenständen, weiblicher Genitalien, Szenen aus der Autowerkstatt und Schusswaffen. Dennoch, die Arbeiten Alex Becerras offenbaren Sensibilität, Verletzlichkeit, Intimität und Verlangen. Inmitten eines in sattem grün ausgearbeiteten Ölfarbenwaldes, leistet Fletch, der weisse Schäferhund des Künstlers, zwielichtigen Gestalten Gesellschaft.

Alex Becerra (*1989 Piru, Kalifornien) lebt und arbeitet in Los Angeles. Seine Werke wurden unter anderem gezeigt bei ltd los angeles und Artist Curated Projects und am Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Über Becerras Werk wurde berichtet unter anderem in der Los Angeles Times, Frieze, Zoo Magazine, und Modern Painters. Alex Becerra spielt in der Band Los Tres Pericos und wird am Wochenende der Eröffnung Tätowierungen nach seinen Zeichnungen anbieten.

*Anlässlich der Ausstellung bietet Alex Becerra kostenlose Schwarz-Weiß-Tattoos an, die auf seinen Zeichnungen basieren. Es ist sowohl mit als auch ohne Voranmeldung möglich, sich tätowieren zu lassen. Für weitere Informationen stehen wir unter info@weissberlin.com zur Verfügung.

Alex Becerra

Born 1989 in Valencia (CA), United States
Lives and works in Los Angeles, United States

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2018

    Some Drawings and Paintings Pt. 1, Karma International, Zürich, Switzerland

  • 2017

    Acuérdate De Mi, Weiss Berlin, Berlin, Germany
    Sueños Eróticos, Shane Cambpell, Chicago, United States

  • 2016

    Yes Yes Yes & Pink Flamingo, Weiss Berlin, Berlin, Germany

  • 2015

    Dollar Store Colors and Bad Taste, Levy Delval, Brussels, Belgium
    Las Ranas, Zona Maco Sur, ltd los angeles, Mexico City, Mexico

  • 2014

    Las Putas Problematicas, ltd los angeles, Los Angeles, United States

  • 2012

    It’s Not A Normal Office Job, Artist Curated Projects, Los Angeles, United States

Group Exhibitions

  • 2018

    Cliche, Almine Rech Gallery, New York, United States
    Early 21st Century Art, Almine Rech Gallery, London, United Kingdom

  • 2017

    Hot Mess, Karma International, Los Angeles, United States

  • 2016

    Forward, ltd los angeles, Los Angeles, Unites States
    Between Something and Nothing, Richard Telles Gallery, Los Angeles, Unites States
    Paper Paper, The Green Gallery, Milwaukee, Unites States
    Pleasure Prinicpal, Artist Curated Projects, Los Angeles, Unites States
    Oily Doily, BBQ Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Unites States
    Please Have Enough Acid in the Dish, M+B Gallery, Los Angeles, Unites States
    Nothing Conceptual, Embajada, San Juan, Unites States
    The Great Figure Two, Journal Gallery, Brooklyn, Unites States

  • 2015

    Bloody Red Sun of Fantastic L.A., PIASA, Paris, France
    Reagan Babies, Ms Barbers, Los Angeles, United States
    The Guston Effect, Steven Zevitas Gallery, Boston, United States
    Hit Pause: “Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink”, ltd los angeles, Los Angeles, United States

  • 2014

    Well Played, ltd los angeles, Los Angeles, United States

  • 2013

    works on paper, inc. greatest hits & select b-sides live, c.nichols project, Venice, United States
    Sweat Baby Sweat, Gildar Gallery, Los Angeles, United States
    Freeway Studies #1: This Side of the 405, Ben Maltz Gallery, Westchester (CA), United States
    (Freaks of) Nature is Sexy, 1916 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, United States

  • 2012

    Venice Beach Biennial, Hammer Museum, Venice, United States
    Oh I Do Believe, Carnitas Gallery, Inglewood (CA), United States
    Niki de Saint Phalle, Tirs: Reloaded, Pacific Standard Time, Angeles Shooting Ranges, Lake View Terrace (CA), United States
    Denim Solutions/Ambien Sex, Solutions, Los Angeles, United States

  • 2011

    Soirée Matinée: works on paper by Berlin & LA Artists, Wonderloch Kellerland, Berlin, Germany
    Dude Man Dude, Carnitas Gallery, Inglewood (CA), United States

  • 2010

    12 x 12, Country Club, Schindler House, Los Angeles, United States

Education

  • 2011

    BFA, Otis College of Art, Los Angeles, United States

Bibliography