“La Chamba/Dirty Work”

34 recent drawings and 2 paintings by

Albert Alvarez

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 29, 5:30-8:30 pm

Exhibition Dates: March 29-6, 2014 

In “La Chamba,” Spanish slang for “dirty work,” artist Albert Alvarez does our dirty work for us through his visual protests that viscerally chronicle the dirty realities of life and the sufferings of humanity. Like the canary in a coal mine, Alvarez reacts to the poisonous atmosphere of our modern world, warning of impending cataclysm. Will we heed his warnings, or fly blindly into the toxic mine?

Albert Alvarez was born December 1, 1983, in San Antonio, and started drawing at a young age. He cannot stop drawing; drawing and breathing are the same for him. “I want there to be a divine message: I can only draw things that have to do with how we suffer. Wisdom is knowing that life is suffering,” Alvarez says. “I’m trying to understand suffering. I’m trying to give a line out there to a person suffering to help them out. I think that’s where iconic imagery comes from. It’s the ‘you are not alone.’”

The act of drawing itself is his alter ego. “It’s a compartment in my mind,” he states, “where I sort out information. It’s tied to all aspects of who I am, but it only has one channel: The hand. It’s all really happening in my mind, in my thoughts. Visions are like holographic overlays embedded with rudimentary sight. They’re sort of moments of solidity, where a conundrum becomes fixed.”

Alvarez’s compulsive drawings—he draws 2, 5, 10 hours a day depending on circumstances–evoke the refined precision and exquisite craftsmanship of the graphic works of Albrecht Durer and Francisco Goya. In Dürer’s work, especially, the artist saw what the ancient masters of the east taught about the skillfully illustrated line. “Dürer gave me a new cannon in which to develop my ideas and messages. It’s like the best of the east and west coming toget her for me. And this is how I operate now without any unforeseen hindrances. Drawing is like sport to me. It’s a performance spectacle. A beautiful thing to see live. That’s what you get with a work of art: A performance frozen in time.”

La Chamba features almost thirty pen-and-ink drawings on paper and two color paintings, including a carefully researched depiction of World War II, universal in its theme of the disaster that is war, a timely reminder given the current tensions in Ukraine.

The Opening Reception on Saturday, March 29, 5:30-8:30 pm, features poolside music by Lorita Drive with George Garza, plus wine and light hors d’oeuvres. This is an official CAM event.

The exhibit continues through Saturday, May 3. Gallery hours are Fridays and Saturdays, 1-4 pm, or by appointment, 210-383-9723.

RELATED EVENT: Saturday, April 19, 2 pm: “Dialog/Diálogo” with Albert Alvarez and David S. Rubin, former Brown Foundation Curator of Contemporary Art, SAMA