Mario Ayala included in Sitting on Chrome at SFMOMA
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Mario Ayala included in Sitting on Chrome at SFMOMA
Mario Ayala, Pyramid, 2022, acrylic on canvas in five parts, overall: 104 3/4 x 52 3/8 inches (266.1 x 133 cm). Photo: Grant Gutierrez.



SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- In Sitting on Chrome at SFMOMA, Mario Ayala, rafa esparza, and Guadalupe Rosales engage the visual language of lowriders and explore cruising as a practice of resistance and community visibility. From pinstriped, stylized exteriors to lush, upholstered interiors, these customized cars are modified over time by drivers, their families, and communities for the sake of joy and visual pleasure. Designed to be seen, they express individual and collective identities and transform public spaces. Join SFMOMA's celebration of the exhibition opening on Thursday, August 3 at 6 PM, featuring RBL Posse and Brown Amy.

Reflecting on their own early experiences cruising through the streets of Los Angeles, Ayala, esparza, and Rosales have transformed four of SFMOMA’s Floor 2 galleries through vibrant, multisensory installations. Celebrating and unsettling the lowrider, the exhibition opens with a newly commissioned mural by all three artists, followed by immersive galleries featuring paintings, sculptures, photographs, archival materials, and a sound installation. Each space engages the senses to evoke the experience of lowriding while examining themes of memory, self-authored histories, queer experiences, issues of surveillance, and the relationship between humans and machines.

Mario Ayala (b. 1991, Los Angeles) reimagines a contemporary landscape where identity, observation, and the presence of material fact play equal roles. In his paintings, Ayala brings together figures and forms drawn from every corner of his experience living on the West Coast. Ayala’s work lends interest in traditions and techniques with strong visual ties to California, such as muralism, tattooing, and industrial techniques used in automobile painting and commercial signage. Ayala’s influences also extend into postwar art historical movements such as the Cool School of Los Angeles and Bay Area Funk art. Ayala’s highly personal, often surreal, tableaux are vivid representations of the way in which images course through the world, carrying with them fragments of the past, present, and a future still in formation. His creations live as collectively inspired documents that reflect issues, energies, and aesthetics alive in Mexican American, Latin, and Brown communities throughout the region. Ayala’s sculptures, site-specific works, and collaborations embody his capacity to envision the local and the global as interwoven phenomena. Like his paintings, they locate surprising—and even unsettling—moments of cohesion in a world defined by multiplicity and rapid, ever-changing flux.

Mario Ayala has been the subject of solo and two-person exhibitions at Jeffrey Deitch, New York (2022) and Ever Gold [Projects], San Francisco (2021). Recent group exhibitions include Hot Concrete: LA to HK, K11 Musea, Hong Kong (2022); Shattered Glass, Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles (2021); and Made in L.A. 2020: a version, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2020). His work is in the permanent collections of institutions including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and the Aïshti Foundation, Beirut. Ayala lives and works in Los Angeles.

SFMOMA San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Sitting on Chrome at SFMOMA
August 3rd, 2023 – February 19th, 2024










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