Week 4 – Artist Conversation #2: Elmer Guevara & Robert Nehemiah

Exhibition Information

Artist: Elmer Guevara & Robert Nehemiah

Exhibition: Immaterial

Media: Oil Painting, Bleach, Metal, Wood

Gallery: CSULB School of Art

Instagram: @3lmski1, @wookieewarrior

About the Artist

Robert Nehemiah and Elmer Guevara are two undergraduate artists, finishing their last semester of CSULB’s College of Art’s BFA in drawing and painting. They’re both born and raised in the southern part of Los Angeles, which is what most of this exhibition is based on. Other than being students, they like music and to travel. They have both tried different forms of art like woodwork and sculpting but found out that drawing and painting were their main field. From a young age, Robert and Elmer started drawing and from there on found their passion for art. As for this exhibition, their ideas explore people of Los Angeles and their different stories.

Formal Analysis

The exhibition “Immaterial” is a collab of two artists, sharing their common ground with two different types of paintings. Robert Nehemiah’s paintings are portrayals of some of his family members like his mom, aunt, and grandmother. He decided to have the final portrayal as a portrayal of himself. He used a different type of materials, carved in different forms like it was ripped from the material itself. For example, he used bleach, wood, and metal in one of his portrayals and painted on top of that surface. Elmer Guevara’s work is portrayals of people in his neighborhood in South Los Angeles, painted on canvas. Every painting portrays different people, reflected by their story or the vibe he got from them. His paintings show the suburban neighborhood style in Los Angeles and homeless people. The strokes look randomly brushed throughout the paintings and there is a lot of messy parts, which reflects the message very well. It looks like street art, but is in fact not, just art of street art. What these paintings have in common is the street-style and their portrayals of people. In addition to these common elements, many of the paintings have graffiti elements on them. On the other side, what’s different with these paintings are the material where Robert’s work are different carved out materials, less organized than Elmer’s standard canvas.


Content Analysis

When we look at the message these two artists are trying to send – we can look at self-exploration and/or street art. As they introduced us with, the portrayals are portraying people they feel have been overseen. Every painting is of people they’ve actually met and interviewed, which makes it real and interesting. The title of each painting are titles of the person they interviewed. The titles are not random nor is the people they chose to interview. Elmer especially was fascinated by the neighborhoods where he came from and wanted to hear their stories. Many of the interviews are of homeless people. Each painting shows the person and their background. It’s a collage that’s made by several photographic elements, composed through that and paint. I believe the artists are trying to represent a culture that is underrated and outcasted in our society today. As Elemer himself said, he got inspired by people and situations that happened around him in the neighborhood of LA. Robert’s vision was that everything is temporary, which he shows in his materials. The materials are eventually going to fall apart, which he wanted to reflect by the saying that “Let things be momentary”.


An example of this is Greg. He was moving a lot during his interview which Elmer portrayed by brushed stroke lines in every angle, the city upside down and pieces of him in a movement.

Synthesis/My Experience

Personally, I loved this exhibition from the second I walked in. I’ve always been fascinated by street art and the city of Los Angeles. As a minority myself I found it interesting to see how these people were portrayed and the fact that their background doesn’t make them less important or valuable. People are interesting for me and the fact that everyone has their own story no one really know about, makes me wanna think about everyone’s story. The other part of the exhibition, Robert’s work was also very interesting for me because I loved the fact that his paintings were temporary as a symbolic meaning on life. What he made was great and he knew that, but he didn’t have to spend more money or time on the materials to keep it longer, based on the idea that “what’s good is now”. Everything we experience in our life matter in one way or another. I’m a huge believer in everything happens for a reason and I felt that’s what he tried to tell us. Moments from our past is over, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t matter. Instead of worrying about the future and dwell on the past, we should enjoy the present more.


Self-portrait of Robert


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