Facing shortages of his usual materials, Colorado artist Emilio Lobato turned to rubber sheets, household tacks, and porcelain strips. The outcome is work that is surprisingly multifaceted.
Emilio Lobato: Lessons Learned
November 12, 2021—January 15, 2022
William Havu Gallery, Denver
The work of Colorado artist Emilio Lobato feels very much of the moment, as we struggle through a pandemic, watch political and social rifts deepen, and assimilate the jargon that reflects our time. In Lobato’s case, the past two years have also meant shortages of art supplies. In his solo exhibition at William Havu Gallery, Lessons Learned, Lobato imparts a lesson in making do. When he was unable to access his usual printmaking materials of paper and varnishes, he turned to rubber sheets and household tacks.
Inspired by these unorthodox materials, Lobato creates wall plaques that brim with geometric whimsy, texture, subtle gradations of color, and depth. The overlapping half-circles, rectangles, and strips offer visual intrigue, for instance, when a thin orange strip forming a “V” is superimposed on roughly tacked layers of black squares and discs. Lobato gives the panels apropos titles such as Cancel Culture, Collectiva Dividida (A Collective Divided), and Distancia Social (Social Distancing) (all works 2021), to further reflect our times.
Included in the show are several of Lobato’s signature collages on panels, in which polygon-like shapes and concentric circles painted in black, brown, and deep red are layered with fragments of old printed pages. Even after many years of creating such prints, Lobato always gives them a commanding presence, despite their seeming simplicity.
The collages and rubber panels would have provided enough of a well-rounded show, but Lobato also has spent the pandemic experimenting with fired porcelain strips that resemble scrap wood. He assembles the strips into miniature pyramids and towers with wire, and they transform into fragile scaffolds of white and off-white, seemingly ready to topple at any moment. Several small assemblages incorporating antique printing blocks, found metal, and rubber fragments are also on view, as well as five monotypes with chine-collé.
The exhibition easily proves Lobato’s versatility, not to mention his ability to roll with the punches, pandemic be damned.