Recently traveled from a three-month solo presentation at the Berman Museum, David B. Smith Gallery is pleased to exhibit Re/Presenting México: José María Velasco and the Politics of Paper, by Las Vegas-based artist Justin Favela.

Continuing his dialogue with the works of Mexican landscape painter José María Velasco, row by row, Favela meticulously replicates Velasco’s iconic works in strips of brightly colored tissue paper. Velasco, recognized as one of Mexico’s most prominent artists of the late 19th century, leaves behind a legacy of Mexican nationalism that is still palpable in his affectionate depictions of El Valle de México and other famous scenes. In paying homage to the works of Velasco, Favela explores the intertwined heritage of nations and individuals.

Presented in the main gallery, Favela’s playful piñata-style works speak to celebration while questioning present-day conversations of identity. Hailing from the land of appropriation, having grown up in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, New York City, and the Pyramids at Giza, Las Vegas has left its mark on the scale and scope of Favela’s artwork. His hybrid practice utilizes craft materials and techniques, at times incorporating installation, relational, and performative elements to his practice. In Re/Presenting México, Justin Favela widens his repertoire of Velasco inspired piñata paintings that add humor and Vegas-style flash to historical dialogues while creating new narratives for contemporary art audiences.