Punk rock, Chicano art, music and politics congeal in "Victor Estrada: Purple Mexican"

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Punk rock, Chicano art, music and politics congeal in "Victor Estrada: Purple Mexican"
Victor Estrada's Untitled, mixed media on paper, 9.5 x 12.5”, 2007. Courtesy the artist.



LOS ANGELES, CALIF.- ArtCenter Exhibitions is now presenting through to February 25th, 2023 Victor Estrada: Purple Mexican, a survey of works by the Los Angeles-based artist, Victor Estrada.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Victor Estrada has produced paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations that deftly navigate the realms of pop and conceptual art. A consummate Angelino, his work is informed by the unique cultural landscape of the sprawling metropolis and the Southwest—1980s Los Angeles and South Bay punk rock; Chicano art, music and politics; the art collectives ASCO and Los Four; and the enduring socio-political ramifications surrounding the US/Mexico border. Estrada congeals this and more in his surreal forms, pushing the boundaries of abstraction while also teasing the viewer with eruptions and viscera of his own identity. His work challenges us as it upends prevalent systems of control, oozing its way into our collective consciousnesses as a byproduct of natural, chaotic and complex forms of subsistence in an illogical, hostile world.

Born in Los Angeles and a member of the student activist group MEChA—founded in the late ‘60s as the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán—Estrada went on to earn his BFA and MFA at ArtCenter College of Design. He came to widespread recognition with his audacious sculpture Baby/Baby (1991) in the legendary 1992 exhibition Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Since then, Estrada has continued to build upon his signature style: fantastical landscapes, creatures and bodily forms that explore eroticism, identity, estrangement and belonging.




Victor Estrada: Purple Mexican focuses on a unique and previously unseen comprehensive view of the artist’s oeuvre, presenting more than 40 intimately scaled drawings, a selection of large paintings created during the past decade, and a major recent sculpture. This is the first exhibition to substantially survey the artist’s oeuvre.

Estrada’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. In 1995, his solo exhibition Tree of Life was presented at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. He received a COLA (City of Los Angeles) Individual Artist Grant in 1996, was a Getty Visiting Scholar in 1999-2000 and received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award in 2015. His work has been included in many important group exhibitions including the internationally traveling exhibition Phantom Sightings, originating at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2008-2010); After the Gold Rush: Reflections and Postscripts on the National Chicano Moratorium of August 29th, 1970 at the Vincent Price Art Museum (2011); and Casa Tomada at SITE Santa Fe (2018). A longtime educator, Estrada taught adult public school in East Los Angeles for 30 years, and has taught in the art department at UCLA since 2019.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 134-page, color-illustrated catalog, titled Purple Mexican: Victor Estrada (2022). Featuring an essay by Nikki Darling and an extended interview between Estrada and artist Vincent Ramos, among other texts, the catalog marks the first publication to focus solely on Victor Estrada’s work. The exhibition is curated by artist Marco Rios, with support from ArtCenter Exhibitions.

Victor Estrada: Purple Mexican is made possible through a generous grant from the Pasadena Art Alliance.

Learn more about the artist in this feature story Color as Revolution: Alum Victor Estrada's Art Explores Identity, Bigotry, Self, Perception, Memory published in ArtCenter's Dot magazine.










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