December 16, 2015

"Thread of Life" : New mural in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

These are photos of my most recent mural painted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as part of the Igloo Hong Project. It is based on my photographs of a local Khmer artisan named Moeun Thary, who hand-embroiders traditional Khmer ceremonial garments. The ring of designs behind her is from one of her pieces.
The mural is on the north-facing end of a large housing complex from the 1960s called the White Building, known for its community of low-income tenants and artists. Since I had the opportunity to paint such a large, visible wall in a place where there are seemingly no other large scale murals like it, I felt an extra sense of responsibility to paint something beautiful, meaningful, and uplifting.
This mural honors Cambodia's artists, both contemporary and those lost during the Cambodian genocide of the mid to late 1970s, when nearly all of the country's creative population was targeted and murdered by the regime.
I hope this mural can serve as a respectful tribute to the importance and perseverance of Cambodia's creative legacy, and possibly, in some small way, offer inspiration for younger Cambodian artists to sustain this legacy.

Many thanks to the Igloo Hong project, the David Young Choe Foundation, Moeun, Dave, Matt, Dylan, Chally, Ashley & Ruben at Hotel Omana, Tuan, Paco, Steve, Jason, Kaye, and everyone else that helped make this mural possible. Much love to Cambodia. Shout outs to Aryz, James, Rhode & Esao.
(the 4th, 5th and last photo were taken by Paco Raterta)

November 4, 2015

"Aerosol Exalted" - Museum exhibition in Colorado at the CSFAC

Finally uploaded some photos of my museum exhibition at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center in Colorado. The show opened in October and will be up through January 10th, 2016. 
I've been inspired from visiting art museums since I was little, so I'm honored to show my work in such a beautiful space, in the company of so many other great artists (this show follows a Georgia O'Keefe exhibit, which was a tough act to follow). I painted some new pieces for this show, including a large spraypaint on burlap piece based on a 1930s photograph by the inspirational Colorado photographer Laura Gilpin, as well as an interpretation of a John Singer Sargent painting in the museum's collection. There are three large collaborative canvases with Retna which had been started years ago and finally just finished, excited to show them all together.
As with many of my murals, this show focuses on dignified portraits of humble, often marginalized people, painted in the spirit of a classical social realism, as well as interpretations of other classic, powerful works of the past. 
For the exhibit, CSFAC released a small serigraph print of a piece based on another old photograph by Laura Gilpin.
Also showing next door are some works by Larry "FUSE AWR" Masters, a good friend and veteran of the 1980s Los Angeles graffiti scene. Many thanks to Fuse and the Masters family for their help and hospitality. Thanks to Joy Armstrong and the crew at the Fine Art Center, RETNA, Andy, Ari, Jorge, Jess, Kim, and anyone else who helped make this show possible or supported in any way.

September 10, 2015

"Objects at Rest" - Solo show in Denmark

I'm having my 2nd solo show in Denmark at Galerie Wolfsen this month, opening saturday, September 12th. I'm excited to exhibit some of my pencil drawings for the first time.
Drawing from life -drawing people, especially- has been one of my favorite things to do for as long as I can remember.
Interpreting what you see with nothing more than pencil lines on paper is something timeless and universal, it can portray humanity and convey personality in a uniquely honest and direct way. Drawing from life requires practice, but can enhance our appreciation and observation of the life around us, while also strengthening our other artistic endeavors.
Henri Matisse explained this sentiment far better than I can:

"I have always tried to hide my own efforts and wished my works to have the lightness of joyousness of a springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost. So I am afraid that the young, seeing in my work only the apparent facility and negligence in the drawing, will use this as an excuse for dispensing with certain efforts I believe necessary.
The few exhibitions that I have had the opportunity of seeing during these last years makes me fear that the young painters are avoiding the slow and painful preparation which is necessary for the education of any contemporary painter who claims to construct by color alone.
An artist must possess nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm by the efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language."

Here's a video by Eric Heights documenting some of the process and context, while capturing a glimpse of Los Angeles set to a soundtrack of some of my favorite music:

August 20, 2015

New print: "Los Campesinos"

I'm releasing a new print adapted from my acrylic painting "Los Campesinos" on Monday, August 24th, all details at

August 15, 2015

"Ars et Scientia" : New mural in Boston for Northeastern University

These are photos of "Ars et Scientia". The mural was commissioned by Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. 

“Ars et Scientia" was painted at Northeastern University, in Boston. The school is across the street from The Museum of Fine Arts, where El Mac was a selected artist at 2014′s MFA Summer Auction along with Augustine Kofie and Jaybo Monk.
The mural was created with his signature spray paint technique of haloed circles and ghostly lines on the brick facade of Northeastern’s Meserve Hall. The wall has not been painted since 1893, and has seen a lot of change in that time. It began its life over a century ago as the home of the United Drug Company before eventually becoming part of the University. The subject matter and location of El Mac’s latest public work are of notable significance. His father went to Northeastern and studied engineering, during this time his father also met El Mac’s mother who was studying painting at nearby MassArt. On the building where the studies of arts and sciences converge there is clearly a deeper and much more personal artist statement that has been written on the wall.

"The focus of the piece is an allegorical image of an ethereal goddess, a sort of Greek muse, who floats in a grayscale with subtle hints of color while holding a bolt of electricity in one hand and and a paintbrush in the other. Her head is raised to the stars above and her mind seems focused as spiraling chemical reactions of muted red and blue manifest into the rhythm behind her. In this work you can find El Mac’s past, present and future. The goddess is modeled after his wife. In her hands is the source material that created him. The electricity in one hand represents both science and his father the engineer, while in her other hand she holds the paintbrush which is both art and his mother the painter. The stars above her allude to the possibilities and promise of the future, as well as the space program which spurred El Mac’s father to pursue a career in engineering which was the catalyst for the family's journey to the Southwest."

-Photos and text by Todd Mazer
Further documentation by Northeastern photographers HERE

Many thanks to everyone from Northeastern who helped make this possible, including President Aoun, Bruce Ployer, Clare, and Bree. Thanks also to Todd, Kim, Kulturez, JuxtapozCaleb.