WK4 – Artist Conversation – Robert Nehemiah and Elmer Guevara

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I felt that with such a collaborative art endeavor such as “Immaterials” it would only make sense to talk about both artists responsible for its creation.  


Robert with his self portrait

Exhibition Information

Artists:  Robert Nehemiah and Elmer Guevara

Exhibition: Immaterials

Media: Paint and Canvas (be that found or bought)

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Max L. Gatov Gallery

About the Artists

Both Robert and Elmer are BFA students here at CSULB and are both on their last semester as undergraduates with an emphasis on painting. They also both grew up in and around the Los Angeles area (Robert being from Pico Rivera) which in part inspired the art present in their exhibit. This was their first time collaborating with one another and their idea was to find a “common ground” between their respective works. They both produced rather distinct styles of portraiture with an emphasis on the “people who are overseen”. Elmer painted the often overlooked homeless men and women of Los Angeles and Robert chose to paint those that mean so much to him, such as his mentor, mother, and grandmother.

Formal Analysis

Elmer and Robert both went about creating their portraits in rather unconventional ways. Elmer, who painted fragmented figures of the people he met on standard canvases, went about painting the unconventional by using conventional means. He took photos of his subjects, collaged them online, and painted what he saw. He put major focus on capturing the vibes of each person he painted, so we as viewers can get a sense of these people even without meeting them. He also seamlessly blended fabric into his portraits which would have gone unnoticed if it not for an astute observation by a fellow classmate long after my first inspection of his art. Robert’s idea was rather the opposite, whereas he painted classically conventional portraits on rather less traditional unprimed found surfaces such as cardboard and wood. This idea was inspired by his own philosophy and ideas on materialism. These paintings were meant to be temporary. The zen idea of letting things be momentary makes us appreciate things while we can before they are gone.

Content Analysis

Elmer and Robert are both trying to forge their own style in the world of portraiture. After both being taught rather formally they find it both hard and appealing to break these conventional rules. With this exhibit they are refining what they are doing as artists and are actively trying to find their own “voices” in the art community. With this exhibition both artists have produced something rather unique. With their blending conventionality with unconventionality they have found their voice. They have produced something different, something more personal, something more resonant. These young artists are already having us, the audience, reevaluate our stances on art and our views on what art can and should be. With this exhibit both Elmer and Robert have found their unique voice in the world of portraiture.  

Synthesis / My Experience

I enjoyed both the art and the meaning behind the art immensely. The fact that they have decided to stray away from the normal and go rather experimental really spoke to me. They could have just done boring portraiture, but instead they created something more important and visually interesting. I also really enjoyed their pink panther divider, which coincidently was not really what was being displayed, but was only meant to block off people from the other exhibit. It was refreshing that they had put some thought into providing this barrier as a piece of art itself not just a piece of red tape. This divider enhanced the exhibit and also personally meant something to Elmer, who first started drawing this pink feline when he was a kid. Robert also pointed out to me that the pink of the panther paired well with the pink and red in his self portrait, which helped guide the eyes of viewers onward through the exhibit. They say that this divider was just a happy accident, but I don’t quite believe them. I look forward to hopefully seeing more art from Robert and Elmer in the future. This exhibit was truly spectacular.



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