Por Debajo: Ozzie Juarez @ Ochi Gallery, Los Angeles
A fun fact: Ozzie Juarez is a former scenic painter "specializing in physical simulation at Disneyland." As much as this is an interesting part of the artist's growth and career, it's also a fascinating and key to understanding Hollywood as both a literal and figurative backdrop to the art world in LA and creating ways of seeing the world through a particular lens. The story goes that "Juarez entertained himself on the job by contemplating the colonial histories of American animation and by observing how shared experiences are constructed—the perfect parallel to Juarez’s ongoing research into surviving and destroyed Mexica (Aztec) culture."
The result is that Juarez has created a body of work, in particular Por Debajo, on view new at Ochi in LA, that has hints of his professional past but feels like a fresh interpretation of layering art history with a contemporary aesthetic. Instead of the sheen of Disneyland and the pre-concocted, perfected sets of the film industry, Juarez has taken apinted camper shells, storefront awnings, and construction materials and painted clean patterns that are part of his fluorescent Mexica aesthetic. There is a duality in the work that is both part of the artist's life as a native Angelino and all the histories of this unique place and his own deeper autobiography. —Evan Pricco