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Vito Schnabel Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Lance De Los Reyes: Gifts of Telepathy, the first solo presentation of the artist’s work in Los Angeles. On view at The Old Santa Monica Post Office through January 2023, the exhibition will feature two dozen paintings and sculptures made by the late artist and poet between 2016 and his death in 2021.
Across the years of his practice, Lance De Los Reyes evolved from a noted street artist recognized by the tagged presence of his alter ego, RAMBO, into a dedicated studio painter and sculptor, developing a striking visual language dominated by symbols and pictographs conceived to map his consciousness. Through his emphatic, large-scale works, De Los Reyes sought to share his memories of the past and the present, and to project the possibilities he imagined in our future ahead. His abstract images on canvas and paper express a vision of the spiritual and natural worlds entwined, sacred and profane in constant oscillation, exerting a palpable creative force field.
The artist’s wife Anna De Los Reyes writes: “Lance was able to brilliantly read every day like a book of divinity. Seeing the story of our souls embedded in the symbolism of nature, he drew upon these vortices of conscious energy to extract and build from what life provides.”
In 2020, while spending time with his mentor, the artist Donald Baechler, in upstate New York, De Los Reyes created a series of shield sculptures that materialize his beliefs. A selection of these will be exhibited for the first time in the exhibition at the Old Santa Monica Post Office. Anna De Los Reyes explains that the sculptures were “intended to be vessels that protect a sacred truth…Lance felt that when people neglect the holy transmissions that guide us, we must find a way to look deeper into our shadows, in order to heal. This was an intensely personal journey for Lance. He never moved in fear as he stepped into ceremony. Seeing how the world holds us, and we in turn hold the world, he offered these shields as a gift. In these sculptures, primary colors and organic shapes represent the chemicals of his craft in alliance with the natural world. White being the salt of the earth; red expressing the element of sulfur, our lifeblood, and fire; blue being the spirit and the influence of water; black, a messenger of the mystery and sorrow; yellow to channel the glory of the sun; and green to constitute resurrection. Lance purposely cast spells to transmute the base metals of lower man into spiritual gold, creating the groundwork of his boundless vision.”
De Los Reyes’ shield sculptures also derive inspiration from the concave shaped canvases of Ron Gorchov, of whom he was an ardent admirer. De Los Reyes experimented with Gorchov’s signature ‘saddle’ form in a series of paintings from 2016, and examples will be on view in this exhibition.
In his last body of work, completed in early 2021, De Los Reyes began exploring more distinctively animal subjects, including otherworldly creatures peeking through and superimposed upon monumentally-sized masks. Abstract shapes and figures collide in these colorful, energetic, totemic works, signalizing a direction that De Los Reyes may have taken.
About the artist
Lance De Los Reyes (1977-2021) was born in Houston, Texas, and moved to Southern California in his adolescence. By the late 1990s, he began tagging the urban landscape and writing graffiti on rooftops and trains. His path crossed with Shepard Fairey, with whom he lived and worked for two years before leaving the West Coast for New York City. During his time in California, De Los Reyes attended the San Francisco Art Institute, where he studied painting, sculpture, performance and video. Upon moving to New York in 2002, he worked as an assistant to artist Donald Baechler, who become a cherished mentor. Baechler’s guiding spirit and affecting presence in De Los Reyes work echoes the symbiotic relationship of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, a collaborative exchange he admired.
As a graffiti artist, De Los Reyes tagged as his alter ego RAMBO for nearly fifteen years. His text-based street art was ever-present in Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan, ubiquitous throughout New York’s five boroughs. Scrawled on billboards over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, or found on trucks and walls of city buildings, his iconic upside-down crowns and cryptic poetry, written in all-caps lettering, reads as a type of shamanistic message or offering.
Lance De Los Reyes first exhibited with The Journal Gallery and Peter Makebish in New York. In 2014, The Hole presented a defining solo exhibition, Lance De Los Reyes: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, exposing the artist’s ambition and talent as a studio painter. During his lifetime, De Los Reyes continued to exhibit his work widely with Elliott Levenglick Gallery, New York, NY; Circle Culture Gallery, Berlin Germany; Shrine Gallery, New York, NY; Allouche Gallery, New York, NY; Racket, Miami, FL; and Ross Sutton Gallery, New York, NY.
A prolific and visionary creator, the Brooklyn-based artist and poet died on November 4, 2021 in New York.
About the Old Santa Monica Post Office
A striking example of the Streamline Moderne architectural style that emerged in the 1930s, the Old Santa Monica Post Office was designed by Louis Simon and completed in 1938. The building was a commission of the Public Works Administration (PWA), a national recovery program established during the Great Depression. The building is distinguished by it its sprawling interior and soaring ceiling with raw industrial beams, and its end-grain wood floors. Its white stucco façade and paneled lobby were granted Santa Monica Landmark status via preservation covenant by the Santa Monica City Council in 2014.
This noted historic building was acquired by Alexander Dellal of UK-based Allied Commercial Exporters Ltd (A.C.E) in 2017. A.C.E’s LA office is focused on the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of historic and Landmarked buildings in the greater Los Angeles area. In addition to the old Santa Monica Post Office, A.C.E has acquired and is currently developing the old Venice Post Office.