'Borderlandia': The art of the brothers de la Torre
Stepping into the exhibition, “Borderlandia: Cultural Topography by Einar and Jamex de la Torre” at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, is like stepping into a funhouse that mixes hand-worked glass, found objects and technology with a neo-Baroque sensibility. “Our work deals a lot with hybridity on so many levels,” says Einar. He has long frizzy hair and is the extroverted, talkative one. Jamex, his older brother and longtime collaborator, stands to one side, wearing glasses and a thoughtful air.
Around us are wildly colorful glass sculpture on pedestals and inside showcases, plus larger works such as their versions of the Last Judgment in altar form (“La Reconquista”), an Aztec-inspired calendar made of turning wheels with “hearts” dangling from the sides (“La Belle Epoch”), a pair of electronic totems loaded with found objects (“Tula Frontera Norte” and “Tula Frontera Sur”) and a surrealistic wall mural of bowls and platters piled with food from several cultures (“Pho’Zole”).
Mexican and American culture are handily tossed together in their artistic salad, and so is a bit of Asian culture. In the glass sculpture “Double Happiness K.O.” a laughing golden Buddha also looks like a sumo wrestler; in “Pho’Zole” the artists photo-collaged together bowls of the Vietnamese noodle soup and other food. “Food sometimes is the first step of acculturation,” Jamex observes. “It dawned on us when we were in San Jose in a restaurant eating pho – we realized everyone in the restaurant was Mexican, eating a soup that was somewhat familiar to us.”
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, the brothers moved with their family to Southern California in 1972. Both studied at the Cal State Long Beach, and later ran a flame-worked glass business together. Eventually they decided to concentrate on their artwork and began exhibiting at galleries, museums, and biennials. Today they maintain homes and studios on two sides of the U.S.-Mexico border – in San Diego and near Ensenada.
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-- Scarlet Cheng
Photo: The brothers with "La Reconquista," 2009, mixed media: backlit, Lenticular prints, framed plywood "altar" foam, resin castings and printed vinyl.
Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times