Armando G. Cortes


July 13 - August 17, 2019

Visitor Welcome Center presents Reverberante, a solo exhibition by Armando G. Cortes. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.

In Urequio, Michoacan, natural springs have sustained the town’s inhabitants for over a century. Often times, the springs sprout through the clay floors of adobe homes, threatening their structural integrity. To prevent water damage, villagers have carved small channels to carefully divert the water out of their dwellings. Drawing from the geology of his family’s home and his lived experience in Urequio, Armando G. Cortes builds a clay ground with a path for water atop the gallery’s floor, paving a platform upon which stories spring.

Cortes uses clay, drawing, fire and cultural symbols to materialize his transnational experience of life between Urequio and Los Angeles. A golden nopal sits in the center of the room, limning the natural connection between the two geographies. Its ruggedness decorates the southwestern landscape, and as a staple food source for the poor, the nopal’s resilience and propagative nature have nurtured life for millennia. Cortes transforms the nopal with gold and smoke to imbue it with myth. In Urequio, mysterious fires have been sighted in the hillsides, whose mythical burns have prompted observers to dig for gold and the forgotten. Cortes’ work offers an inheritance marked by magic, myth, and change.

As a result of the current administration’s pressures, Cortes’ family members, as well as members in his community, endure life threatening changes on a daily basis. Two of Cortes’ adolescent cousins are the subjects of his drawings. Born and raised in Los Angeles, the teenagers may soon face a permanent move to Urequio, where they have never visited. The artist has been teaching his cousins how to garden and work with adobe, while passing on histories and knowledge from a home they do not yet know, in hopes that these forms of sustenance may prepare them for the future. In two drawings, the teenagers are depicted in their grandmother’s Urequio garden with native wildlife whose mythical significance embody resilience and continuity, as well as premonitions of danger. Here, the artist reminds his young cousins, as well as visitors, of the magical and mournful possibilities of survival within a perpetual state of uncertainty.

Armando Cortes (b. 1989, Urequio, Michoacan, Mexico) is an artist working and living in the industrial town of Wilmington, CA. Through drawing, sculpture, and performance, his works explore labor and repetition in urban and rural surroundings. His work is informed by magical realism, faith, and stories told to him through his parents and elders in his community. Recent shows include Praxis, Long Beach Museum of Art, Melting Point, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Terrain Biennial, and Sur Biennial. He holds a BA from UCLA and will begin the MFA in Sculpture program at Yale University this fall.