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Urban Symphony - art series by Isaac Pelayo

Urban Symphony - art series by Isaac Pelayo

The Subconscious Splinters of Isaac Pelayo Los Angeles painter Isaac Pelayo is rethinking the foundations and philosophies of art making and, in doing so, taps into the human condition.

For Isaac Pelayo, art is in his DNA. He has spent nearly his entire lifetime with a pencil in hand or behind the canvas. Enthralled by the art he saw in museums, inspired by the street art he encountered growing up in Los Angeles, and encouraged by his family, he rapidly gained his technical abilities, leaving him unrivaled even at an early age. With a few decades under his belt, he refuses to slow down. From commissioned paintings to album covers, his work is in high demand, but that is not what motivates him. Despite cultivating an exponentially growing following, Pelayo defies complacency, challenging himself and the art world’s definition of what it means to be an artist and the responsibilities that entails.

Simultaneously meticulous and intricate alongside visceral and raw, Pelayo disrupts how we view works of art. He leaves us second-guessing the nature of our reality as his uncanny photo-realistic depictions melt into beautifully abstract brushstrokes stamped with his signature vocabulary of iconography. While saturated with his own emotions, many of which cannot help but hit close to home with many of us today, his work calls into question the world around us: issues within art history, socioeconomic class structures, and even our own sense of self and well-being are illuminated. Through the honesty and authenticity he brings to his practice, he strives to rekindle sensations, memories, and sentiments that lie dormant within us all.

Isaac Pelayo_JM Art Management

From highly rendered portraits of celebrities adorned with a third eye to expressive recreations of Renaissance Madonnas with yellow smiley faces, Pelayo undermines the expectations set forth by years of art history by synthesizing unconventional elements. Figuration and abstraction, sophistication versus the colloquial, meticulous technique colliding with gestural mark-making—his work thrives in the reconciliation of opposites we never thought possible. He is fusing the fragments of art, society, and life back together. The spaces in between are not solely where his style develops, but we come to learn that this is where his identity as an artist is forged.

Isaac Pelayo_JM Art Management
Isaac Pelayo, PHIL KNIGHT, 2024

The "Urban Symphony" series by Isaac Pelayo showcases ten works that delve into the relationship between poor and rich individuals in the urban landscape.

The concept behind this series originated from the artist's contemplation on the contrasting lives of the wealthy and the impoverished. Drawing inspiration from his experiences driving through Los Angeles and Riverside, Pelayo explores the relationship between these two social groups within the urban landscape.

The artist's paintings, particularly those with religious themes, evoke memories of driving through the city and encountering small churches, known as "Iglesias" in Spanish. In East LA, one can observe these iglesias along the main streets, where a few individuals can be seen engaged in prayer. Adorning the exterior walls of these churches are often crude murals depicting Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, or the Lady of Guadalupe. These murals, however, are juxtaposed with gang graffiti and advertisements for prominent corporations.

This artistic representation delves into the generational divide among immigrants who come to America in search of a better life. The older generation places their faith in God, seeking solace and guidance, while the younger, first or second-generation Americans express their identity through street art, rather than religious devotion. By leaving their mark on the walls through graffiti, they assert their presence and existence in the world.

Furthermore, Pelayo addresses the issue of gentrification and the encroachment of large corporations into impoverished communities. These communities, predominantly inhabited by the less fortunate, bear witness to the overwhelming presence of advertisements for major brands such as Pepsi, Nike, and gas companies. This reality is one that only those who experience poverty can truly comprehend.

In paying homage to Renaissance art, the artist incorporates elements of realism and religious iconography into his works. It is worth noting that five centuries ago, such art was exclusively accessible to the wealthy, who could commission paintings. However, with the advent of graffiti, a form of artistic expression born from the hands of the poor, art became accessible to all. Interestingly, in the present day, even the affluent are embracing and purchasing graffiti art.

Ultimately, "Urban Symphony" explores the stark contrast between different social classes, highlighting the interplay between faith, identity, and the commercialization of art.

Isaac Pelayo_JM Art Management
Isaac Pelayo, BLOOD TIES, 2023

View Isaac Pelayo's work on ARTSY

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*** All images are property of the Artist and JM Art Management


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