Josh Reames and José Lerma, He Hath Founded It Upon the Seas I (2016), courtesy of Luis De Jesus.

Josh Reames and José Lerma, He Hath Founded It Upon the Seas I (2016), courtesy of Luis De Jesus.

Luis De Jesus:

Josh Reames and José Lerma

In his latest exhibition at Luis De Jesus, Josh Reames has collaborated with long-time friend José Lerma, in situ, to produce two large-scale triptych paintings and sculpture.

In the front gallery, two ambitious paintings extending the length of each wall, nearly floor to ceiling, confound the viewer like a momentary parting of seas. Reading like two scrolling seascapes replete with iconic seafaring war imagery and the seemingly bombastic fumings of various art historical styles. Further inspection, reveals these images to be light-hearted, playful, and far more bizarre than initially suggested; a Monty Python-esque journey through the storied and violent Colonial history of the Caribbean.  

Josh Reames and José Lerma, He Hath Founded It Upon the Seas I & II (2016), courtesy of Luis De Jesus.

Josh Reames and José Lerma, He Hath Founded It Upon the Seas I & II (2016), courtesy of Luis De Jesus.

The seductive lines of delicately airbrushed acrylic appear like ghostly drawings, tangled and meshed with tromp l’oeil beer bottles, canon balls and Magritte-style cigarettes that innocuously float through the chaos.

Using art historical painting as the backdrop to their subject, Reames and Lerma carefully dissect Caribbean motifs and infuse each of the massive canvases with their own brand of Post-Internet aesthetics.

Josh Reames and José Lerma, He Hath Founded It Upon the Seas II (2016), courtesy of Luis De Jesus.

Josh Reames and José Lerma, He Hath Founded It Upon the Seas II (2016), courtesy of Luis De Jesus.

In the back gallery, the artists further expound upon the economic critique of gentrification. A lone glass door hangs in the room, illuminated by Windex bottles attached to spotlights; an eerie blue glare bounces off the walls. This room is a fitting juxtaposition of the “Broken Windows Theory” against the unchecked white-collar crimes blatantly represented in the front gallery.

Josh Reames and José Lerma, Monument to Wilson and Kelling (2016), courtesy of Luis De Jesus.

Josh Reames and José Lerma, Monument to Wilson and Kelling (2016), courtesy of Luis De Jesus.

In an era where economic dystopia and tax havens abound, Reames and Lerma playfully and masterfully bring the oft forgotten history of the Caribbean and numerous exploited locales into a current discourse. The present and past are never too far apart.

Josh Reames and José Lerma, January 30 – March 5, 2016 at Luis De Jesus, 2685 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034, http://www.luisdejesus.com/.