Luis Ernesto Zavala




I am in a perpetual state of homesickness. Constantly longing for that home-like place that exists in the familiar. When faced with a new place or thing, I am often times inclined to reclaim it as mine for this is, I believe, the only way I can bring about a reconciliation with my environment and through this process find new meaning.

The practice of reclaiming begins through the establishing of a transitional object––a relocation of a familiar object or place or thing to another site, be it physically or through a two-dimensional space.

Physically, Olympic & Alameda at the California Institute of the Arts, 2007 (19), is a prime example of my repositioning of a transitional object. The work consists of wall signage, soda crates and a neon ATM sign (not pictured). The hand painted signage, which originally exists in Los Angeles on an exterior wall outside of a real establishment, is now painted on an interior wall. This relocation into a private space, carries along with it, its own culture, meaning and thus begins to be in dialogue with it’s new environment.

Examples of this relocation through a two dimensional space can be found in works such as Canada, 2004 (1) and Roma, 2005 (2). These works are a play-on-words not only because the names themselves carry with them an identity and experience as they are in fact real places but also because the two are brand names for shoes and detergent in Mexico. In fact, it’s as such that as a kid I first knew them before I even understood one was a country and the other a city in Italy. In depicting them as branded logos I am creating new meaning as they are no longer for commercial consumption but rather simply artifacts of memory.

FIN #150, 2008 (05), is another example of this relocation but through the use of two-dimensional space. The series of paintings by the same name borrow only the last page of Spanish adult comic books from Mexico to which I incorporate iconic L.A. iconography, in this case the L.A. Dodgers jersey. Juxtaposing the two unrelated imagery to create a seemingly expected new ending. The result is often subtle but still a brand new image that merges two different worlds and two stories with the same ending but within the context of Los Angeles.

With Ingrid Bergman, 2017 (11), begins a series of works that speak of a fantasy-like relocation of myself as a transported man, into classic film such as Casablanca. By roughly marking myself onto the print as supposed to doing so digitally I’m recalling the sort of vandalism that could have been done to a movie poster back in the day and thus engaging with that world directly as a way to connect with it.

So much of our Identity and its displacement, I believe, can be clearly defined through our interaction with physical spaces, objects and language as it is through this engagement that we begin to understand it and thus better understand ourselves.

In my work, I strive to reconcile by what means we may enrich our lives without gentrification or commodification. Rather an internal relocation if that is possible by tapping into that deep well of memory within ourselves and make all that is new and challenging carry along with it a sense of home, again and again.



San Francisco, Gto. Mexico
Lives and works in Los Angeles, California.  


California Institute of The Arts, M.F.A., Painting & Drawing
The School Of The Art Institute of Chicago, B.F.A., Painting & Drawing 

 Selected Solo Exhibitions 

Homesick, Mint Gallery. Valencia, CA.
Olympic & Alameda, Gallery D301, Valencia, CA. 

 Group Exhibitions 

Artists Assemble!, Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach, CA.
Distant Parallels, The Collaborative, Long Beach, CA.
After The Gold Rush: Reflections and Postscripts on the National
Chicano Moratorium of August 29, 1970, Vincent Price Art Museum, East Los Angeles, CA
Dream+Act Activism on Immigration, Self Help Graphics, Los Angeles, CA
Mash-Up, Santa Monica Art Studios, Santa Monica, CA
Migration Study, Santa Fe Lofts, Los Angeles, CA.
For Ever, Mateo 915, Los Angeles, CA.
Mid-Res Show, Gallery D300, Valencia, CA.
Take The Field, The Winfield Studio, Winfield, KS.
Code is Implement, 1926 Exhibition Space, Chicago, IL.
Other Spaces, Contemporary Art Workshop. Chicago, IL.
The BFA Show, Gallery 2. Chicago, IL.
(Un)Read Image, Gallery X. Chicago, IL.
The Picture Show, G & G. 24E Adams. Chicago, IL.
Student Show, Cerritos College Gallery. Norwalk, CA.
Community College Invitational, Cal State LA, Los Angeles, CA.
Student Show, Cerritos College Gallery. Norwalk, CA. 

Awards & Honors 

Telacu Education Foundation Fine Arts Scholarship, East LA, CA.
Award in Painting, Cerritos College Gallery, Norwalk, CA.