keeping, rafa esparza’s first solo presentation at Commonwealth and Council, brings together shivers of our shared cultural memory, persons in chosen families, limning sites of our coexistence—of at times violent struggles as well as of solidarity—out of earth lifted from the ground, garments vivified. esparza probes the forces shaping these encounters, keeping in mind his broader community, particularly of Brown Angelenos: a network bound together by shared moments of generosity, care, and pleasure, adversity too. In this new body of work, esparza populates spaces with the human and nonhuman, deceased and living, creating a place of respite where things precious and mundane can mingle and accumulate, preserved out of time yet grounded by touchstones of underlooked histories.

rafa esparza (b.1981, Los Angeles) is a multidisciplinary artist whose work reveals his interests in history, personal narratives, and kinship, his own relationship to colonization, and the disrupted genealogies that it produces. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at MASS MoCA (2019); Ballroom Marfa (2017); and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (2015) amongst others. esparza has performed at art institutions including Performance Space New York and the Ellipse, Washington, D.C. (2019); Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2018); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2018); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017).

All images: Installation view of rafa esparza’s keeping, Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles. Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council. Photo: Ruben Diaz.

Chalino  •  2021

Chalino

Acrylic on adobe
71.5 x 49 x 1.5 inches

2021  •  Installation view of rafa esparza’s keeping, Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles. Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council. Photo: Ruben Diaz.

Taquero  •  2021

Taquero

Acrylic on adobe
75 x 45.5 x 1.5 inches

2021  •  Installation view of rafa esparza’s keeping, Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles. Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council. Photo: Ruben Diaz.

Tayhana  •  2021

Tayhana

Acrylic on adobe
70.75 x 48 x 1.5 inches (approx.)
Installation dimensions variable

2021  •  Installation view of rafa esparza’s keeping, Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles. Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council. Photo: Ruben Diaz.

cruising  •  2021

cruising

Acrylic on adobe
71 x 48 x 1.5 inches (approx.)
Installation dimensions variable

2021  •  Installation view of rafa esparza’s keeping, Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles. Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council. Photo: Ruben Diaz.