“Tongue and cheek” portraits by José Lerma balance “politics, humor and aesthetic ingenuity.”
“Tongue and cheek” portraits by José Lerma balance “politics, humor and aesthetic ingenuity.”
July 5

At MCA, José Lerma Confronts Museum Politics with "Friendly Aesthetic"

The July 2 edition of Newcity spotlights faculty member José Lerma’s (Painting and Drawing) “formally stunning, large-scale portraits,” exhibited through December 3 in BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Jose Lerma at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA). Lerma’s works “maintain a balance among the elements of politics, humor and aesthetic ingenuity,” says writer Shreya Sethi, addressing the inner-workings of the museum “in a tongue-in-cheek way.” Sethi highlights the large carpet installation Portrait of Norman and John, which viewers experience by walking over, “like a fly on a sketch book.” The portraits reference the two founders of BMO Harris Bank, the exhibition’s sponsor, drawing “a significant connection with the conditions of the space the work is temporarily occupying.” Despite its political tone, the exhibition maintains a “friendly aesthetic,” Lerma says. “It doesn't take itself too seriously.” Also at the MCA, on July 23 SAIC alumna Amanda Ross-Ho (BFA 1998) will premiere her first outdoor public art project, THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS, on the museum's plaza.