Alfonso Gonzalez Jr.

Published in Issue 21
Text by Marco Gomez

Zoom in. Inspect. Zoom out. We should consider the works of Alfonso Gonzalez Jr. as landscapes. Google Maps and similar apps can show us an environment, frozen in time, with functionality to zoom and explore. Gonzalez Jr.’s work offers us the opportunity to consider the significance of what we find when we zoom in.

In his work Palotero (2017), the combination of materials on canvas gesture towards replicating the materiality and texture of these neighborhoods. This arises again in his diptych, STAY FADED (2019). Gonzalez Jr. reimagines surfaces of vinyl and plywood, but counters with true physicality by employing stucco and enamel paint, conjuring architecture, painted cars. The text fonts and graffiti reflect Gonzalez Jr.’s years of sign-writing education and execution of large-scale custom signage all over the country.

The nature of a burgeoning studio practice reveals itself in his final work, Sueños (2021). In contrast with the two earlier works, only oil and enamel are used. Trompe-l’œil effects convince us of textures like horse hair, sand grit, and denim. The figures in these works are imaginative reconstructions—dreamlike and un-Google-able. Fade haircuts, concrete walls, flyers with tear-off tabs for carpet cleaners: on canvas, this ephemera that Gonzalez Jr. fixates on gives us something earnest, a documentation of a life for the last generation not fully enveloped by the internet. These are the landscapes that are gradually eroding away as gentrification homogenizes the terrain.

See this story in print here.
Read our interview with Marco Gomez here.