Raul Guerrero | Artist. Born in Brawley, California in 1945 and grew up in National City, located twelve miles north of Tijuana, Mexico. He currently resides in San Diego, California. In the 50’s and 60’s, weekly family visits to Tijuana introduced him to a variety of Mexican folk arts and crafts imported from the interior of Mexico and all types of kitsch geared towards the tourist market like Da Vinci’s Last Supper rendered in plaster of paris, or Cervantes Don Quixote and Sancho Panza carved out of pine boards.
At the same time an incredible array of pop and sub-cultures were evolving in Southern California, including low riders, pachucos, surfers, beats, folk singers, motorcycle gangs, Hollywood culture and the newly emerging music scene inspired by British bands.
This co-mingling of cultures and images was absorbed by Guerrero and would influence his artistic approach and content from this point on. Guerrero attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, receiving his BFA in 1970.
His first solo exhibition, in 1974, was at the Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles. The exhibition featured, “Rotating Yaqui Mask”, an Indigenous artifact attached to a wall mounted motor rotating at 15 RPM; “U.F.O.L.A.”, a photo composite of a U.F.O. over the city of Los Angeles; “Bird Bone Whistles”, bird bones crafted into whistles and attached to a compressor to create sounds and photograms depicting obscene hand gestures with their Spanish translations. Similar works and exhibitions followed this initial show.
In the 1980’s, Guerrero shifted his focus from the conceptual experimentation of the previous decade to a more emotional, allegorical style using oil painting as the medium of expression. Oil painting allowed for the opportunity to create representations of thoughts and encountered situations using emotion and imagination more directly. In 1984, during a six-month artistic retreat in Mexico, he created the Oaxaca collection, the first body of work using this new approach to his art making.
Over the last decade, the question of the reality and myth of the American continent has been the primary interest in his artistic content. The ongoing series, “Problems and Marvellous Secrets of the Indies”, examines American lands and their historical mythology. The project now includes three distinct areas of investigation: The Black Hills of Dakota, Southern California, and Latin America.
Raul Guerrero has exhibited throughout California and his shows include the Long Beach Museum of Art (1977); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (1989); Thomas/Lewallen (1978), Richard Kuhlenschmidt (1984) and Saxon Lee, Los Angeles (1989); Barbara Braathen Gallery, New York (1984); Quint Contemporary Art, La Jolla (1995); Galeria Ninapi, Ravenna, Italy (2005); and “TRANSactions: Contemporary Latin American and Latino Art”, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2006). He received an NEA Photography Fellowship in 1979 and the San Diego Art Prize in 2006. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego.