José Lerma (b.1971) is a multimedia artist who works primarily in portraiture. Lerma’s practice is most responsive to not only the social and material conditions of the cities he inhabits, but also to the works of art put on display by their institutions. He has described his practice as akin to that of a landscape painter, turning his eye into a sieve able to distill and record telling details about worlds physically proximate to him. Of particular interest to Lerma is art history, and how artistic representation produces social and political power. His recent suite of portraits is known for its rejection of character psychology and its distinctively haptic materiality, produced with a custom-mixed acrylic paint that allows for a signature impasto.
Lerma is currently an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he has taught since 2009. He has had over twenty solo exhibitions at galleries such as Kavi Gupta in Chicago, IL (2020, 2017, 2014), Galerie Xavier Hufkens in Brussels, Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York, NY (2014, 2010, 2006, 2004), and at museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2014), and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2013) His works are represented in numerous collections, including The Saatchi Collection in London, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.