The Bronx Comes to LA: John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres @ Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles
Charlie James Gallery is very proud to present The Bronx Comes to LA, a two-person show celebrating the artistic partnership of seminal New York artists John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres, a partnership spanning over 40 years. The artists first met at the Fashion Moda alternative space in the Bronx in 1979, where Ahearn was doing live castings of people in front of the storefront window, and hanging the painted portraits as an exhibit. Torres, then 18, had a keen understanding of what Ahearn was doing, having grown up working in his uncle’s religious statuary factory. The two artists worked together, visiting the statuary factory and installing the group of casts as The South Bronx Hall of Fame at the neighborhood Con Edison Building. After the Times Square Show in the summer of 1980 they opened a casting workshop together in Torres’s neighborhood on Walton Avenue. In the early Eighties they installed several permanent fiberglass relief murals in the Bronx. Ahearn and Torres have completed numerous sculpture projects together, in Baltimore, Rotterdam, Taiwan, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.
The life casting process that Ahearn and Torres’s subjects submitted to in the Bronx in 1979 is effectively the same process the artists use today: Subjects’ faces and shoulders are covered with a molding material called alginate, similar to what dentists use to make molds. Then a layer of plaster bandages are applied, forming a rigid shell mold around the alginate. The subjects breathe through straws while the materials harden, a period of around twenty minutes. The artists then take the resulting molds and fill them in with plaster to make positive casts, which are then built up and carved, and finally painted into the lifelike wall reliefs for which the pair are known.
The Bronx Comes to LA will present sixteen pieces in total dating from Bronx-era work as early as 1990 to new works completed in 2020. The gallery worked with Ahearn and Torres to select a body of work representative of the artists’ distinct practices, while also exhibiting pieces co-authored by the artists, as well as a series of self-portraits and other pieces reflective of the artists’ own lives.
The show will run from January 16th, 2021 thru March 27th, 2021 and will be available for viewing by appointment only. Appointments can be made on the gallery website or by calling the gallery at 213.687.0844: https://calendly.com/charliejamesgallery/gallery-appointment?month=2021-01