EL MAC: A MODERN SPIN ON THE CONVENTIONALITY OF THE HUMAN PORTRAIT

by Ariadna Zierold

Miles MacGregor, el mac, mural, portrait, chicano, mexican, border, religious, spiritual, human, los angeles, the citrus report, upper playground

Miles “Mac” MacGregor is an artistic historian in his own right, capturing the influence of his culture within his works of art. The influence of El Mac’s Mexican and Chicano culture is written all throughout his creations.

He uses the streets as a way to continue the tradition of portraiture. Born in Los Angeles, the self-trained artist focuses on subjects that celebrate and reflect the cultural history of the southwest. Introduced to graffiti as a teenager, it was the materials and process involved in spray painting that captivated the artist more than writing letters.

Miles MacGregor, el mac, mural, portrait, chicano, mexican, border, religious, spiritual, human, los angeles, the citrus report, upper playground

Collaboration is a part of graffiti and it’s a practice that Mac embraces, since the city is essentially a large shared space where his work lives. Set against the work of noted artists Nuke and Kofie, the layered mural honors indigenous peoples and invisible histories that are often forgotten.

Miles MacGregor, el mac, mural, portrait, chicano, mexican, border, religious, spiritual, human, los angeles, the citrus report, upper playground

Mac like many artists learning their trade began by painting portraits of friends and family members but this output eventually progressed to conceptually heavier material. Choosing to paint a series of anonymous Mexican laborers, these paintings honored those that would not be typically featured in the history of portraiture.

His finished murals are so well regarded they are sometimes seen as unofficial monuments throughout the city. The artist knows these temporary contributions have a much more powerful impact during their life than traditional studio work. Collectively as a body, they celebrate, honor, and speak into human nature and the importance of truth and beauty.

Miles MacGregor, el mac, mural, portrait, chicano, mexican, border, religious, spiritual, human, los angeles, the citrus report, upper playground

Mac utilizes an application of spray paint that appears to vibrate and ripple on the wall. Furthermore, precise shading gives life to his subjects, ultimately transmitting an palpable energy through his work that is unlike no other. While each portrait is typically soft from a distance, the crosshatching and line work bursts outward with exuberance.

The history of Mexican and Chicano culture is a constant in Mac’s work. A student of art history, his use of Catholic iconography is unmistakable. While he portrays everyday people, the juxtaposition of a mother and child, the use of blue cloak, or an implied halo around the head of one his sitters signifies the importance of the divine and the role of the church.

Miles MacGregor, el mac, mural, portrait, chicano, mexican, border, religious, spiritual, human, los angeles, the citrus report, upper playground

“It’s a visual language that extends back to classical times.” Although not overtly religious himself, Mac sees himself as a spiritual person. He does not seek to teach biblical narratives or virtues but instead references this symbology and imparts its significance to his sitters, making the commonplace extraordinary.

After finishing his “Juarense y Poderosa” mural in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, El Mac moved up north to El Paso where he created another strong and meaningful piece. Titled “Ánimo Sin Fronteras” (Spirit Without Borders) it is another homage to the people that experienced the injustice and violence occurring regularly in the areas on the US/Mexican border. Through this series of murals, he is trying to get pay respect to these people and help them with their fights.

Miles MacGregor, el mac, mural, portrait, chicano, mexican, border, religious, spiritual, human, los angeles, the citrus report, upper playground

“This is the mural I painted in El Paso, Texas, titled “Ánimo Sin Fronteras” (spirit without borders). All aerosol and fatcapsIt’s based on photos I shot in 2012 of a man named Melchor Flores, who’s been fighting to get answers and justice for his son who was picked up and disappeared by police in Nuevo León in 2009. This mural is located in the heart of downtown El Paso, and complements the fighting spirit of the classic boxing mural next to it. This is an important mural for me, something I’ve been trying to make happen for a while. It is for all those who fight for justice.”

Mac’s El Paso and Juárez murals are excellent examples of this energy applied to a political framework. The murals feature a different image on each side of the U.S./Mexican border and are a manifestation of Mac’s soft yet powerful voice. Each portrait addresses the violence and corruption with border politics and crime. The first portrait features a young woman whose mother was kidnapped and killed while the other is a man whose son was murdered by the police. The proud and dignified images exude hope and resilience yet simultaneously raise awareness to the awful conditions for those living on the border and the struggles these families have undergone. Mac’s ability to address difficult issues is shrouded in beauty and it makes the harsh truth palpable.

Miles MacGregor, el mac, mural, portrait, chicano, mexican, border, religious, spiritual, human, los angeles, the citrus report, upper playground

What makes El Mac’s works so memorable is his ability to put a modern spin on the conventionality of the human portrait by incorporating his detailed line work. This brings an almost distorted, fragmented accompaniment to his creations, opening the doors for varying interpretation. Challenged by creating difficult images, Mac succeeds by making more than a technically executed portrait. They instead are social and spiritual reminders of our humanity, the small details of what makes someone an individual become giant gestures to be admired.

 

 

ALWAIS WATCHING: Greg CRAOLA Simkins Closing Reception and Special Print Release

The closing reception for Greg ‘CRAOLA‘ Simkins’ solo exhibition “Where Am I” at MKGallery (Los Angeles), will include a special print release of the artist’s “ALWAIS WATCHING” painting. CRAOLA will be hand drawing a ‘Remarque’ sketch on each “ALWAIS WATCHING” giclee print purchased on Saturday, June 20th from 3 – 5 pm.

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Where Am I? by CRAOLA – Opening May 23rd 2015

“Where Am I?” by Greg “CRAOLA” Simkins opens May 23rd at 7:00pm in Los Angeles. The Solo Exhibition of original paintings, drawings, and new limited edition releases is presented by KP Projects Gallery.

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“Where Am I?”
May 23 – June 20, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 23rd, 7-10pm
170 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
For more information: info@mkgallery.com

PARAL•LEL by ARYZ Opens in Los Angeles

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‘PARAL•LEL’, the first solo exhibition in Los Angeles by Spanish muralist and artist, ARYZ, opened April 25th 2015 with hundreds of visitors who came see his new body of work. With two complimentary parallel rooms that span over 2000 square feet, the show reflects on the definition of “PARAL•LEL” as a mathematical notion in differential geometry where two parallel geodesic lines never meet in the same plane, but intersect at infinity. 

 In addition to the sold out exhibition, ARYZ will be releasing a special giclée print Friday, May 8th at 12PM (PST) at parallel-losangeles.com. Titled, ‘Interludio’ the print is of one of the largest paintings currently exhibited at the show.

 PARAL•LEL will remain open until May 31st by appointment only and appointments to see the exhibition can be made at the event website at parallel-losangeles.com.

See select images of PARAL•LEL below:

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PARAL•LEL by Spanish Artist Aryz Opens in Los Angeles

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‘PARAL•LEL’, the first exhibition in Los Angeles by Spanish muralist Aryz opened Saturday, April 25th. Set in a downtown building with two parallel gallery spaces, the complimentary collections showcase classic Aryz skulls and paintings that translate his large-scale murals onto canvas. The original work is intended to reflect the contradictions the artist faces in creating work for both public and interior spaces.

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See selected works from PARAL•LEL below. The exhibition runs through May 31st. Shown by appointment only. For information visit the event website parallel-losangeles.com and artist’s website aryz.es.

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PARAL•LEL: Aryz Debuts Contemporary Collection of Work for First Los Angeles Exhibit

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Barcelona fine artist and contemporary muralist Aryz presents his first Los Angeles exhibition, ‘PARAL•LEL’, opening April 25, 2015. PARAL•LEL is presented in two seperate rooms, symbolizing two lines that never meet in the same plane, but intersect at infinity. The collections are built to reflect the contradictions the artist faces in creating work for both interior environments and public spaces. One room showcases a sparse, traditionally hung collection of classical paintings, while the other displays high-energy, expressive contemporary works.

At just 26 years old, Aryz has firmly established himself in the worlds of fine art and contemporary muralism. The artist’s work incorporates both academic painting along with contemporary techniques and mediums.  ‘PARAL•LEL’,  is Aryz’s first extensive body of indoor work.

PARAL•LEL
April 25th – May 31st 2015
By Appointment Only
Opening Reception – Saturday, April 25th 2015, 8PM-11PM
Media Previews available upon appointment – Saturday, April 25th 2015

1340 E. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Event Website: http://parallel-losangeles.com
Artist Website: http://www.aryz.es

Upper Playground Releases New Logo Designs by Benjie Escobar

Upper Playground is pleased to announce the release of five new logo designs by artist and designer, Benjie Escobar. Benjie brings his eclectic background to the UP design table, creating original logos for Upper Playground and showcasing his style. All new designs are available in store and online at upperplayground.com.

About the Artist:
Benjie Escobar is an LA-based, multi-media artist and designer. His work and his aesthetic sensibilities come from a variety of influences that range from his childhood in Pomona, anime, lowrider bike culture, graffiti, raves, streetwear, DJ culture, Japan, typography, design & illustration and perhaps most importantly, hamburgers or was it pizza?

In addition to his creative work, Benjie is also a curator of art exhibitions, inventor of new zine genres, art-director of gourmet burger festivals and brand builder of countless companies and gives priceless off-the-cuff marketing tips to anyone who cares to listen, or just happens to be within earshot.

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New Mural by El Mac, Kofie, Nuke and SKILL with AISE in Los Angeles

A new mural by El Mac, Kofie and Nuke went up in LA yesterday, along side SKILL UTI who also worked on a second wall preserving DASH 2000’s work with AISE.  The UTI Crew‘s wall which has a portrait of an older  woman of Navajo descent (marked by her turquoise necklace) now looms over the Arts District in Los Angeles between Traction and E. 4th Street on S. Hewitt.

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Photo credit: Jy-Ah Min for Upper Playground