Not owning an easel, she paints on the floor but didn’t paint a drop until her senior year in college. Her work resembles Picasso and Klimt, and with the same ease as the scorpion to the turtle, she executes her abstract depictions because it’s in her nature. Her name is Licha DeLaPeña, and she is an artist.
Born not so long ago in a place not too far away, DeLaPeña’s story really starts with an advertising class – her degree is in advertising – her senior year in college. “[We] had to do a project where you created something. And so I painted a painting,” describes DeLaPeña.
Like most origin stories go, simple events are much more complicated. And yet, DeLaPeña finds her own genesis as an artist neatly defined with grades and everything. So casual was her opening salvo into the art world, she laments with a leavened smile she can’t recall the initial project. Thankfully she still has the painting that started it all.
Artists, more than most other professions, are seen as being born with talents enabling them to do what they do. This makes for a tidy explanation as to why many artists’ oeuvre begins when they are very young.
Not so with DeLaPeña. Perhaps this is why so much of her work writhes in complexity, as if so many years of pent up expression made of her vision of the world a rigorous one. Out of the mundane something much more beautiful, much more abstract emerges in the acrylic.
“One Morning In August” flashes bright yellow and cerulean blue, emotive states as much as the palette colors of the landscape on what must have been an actual morning. These places of rumination flank either side of a complicated middle resembling corporeal forms schismed just as much as parlayed with DeLaPeña depicting her own experience, an experience now captured successfully on canvas into something newly ordered for others to see and experience in their own way.
“Last Light Before the Storm” sprawls yellows and greens neatly parsed out into squares of varying size. The jaundiced colors steeped in the meaning of “storm” resurrect memories of the moments before a tornado, even if the memories are as much a fiction as what lies in front of you.
Abstract art has a tendency to do this, to make of your world a more malleable and pliable place as you try to make them work. Titles such as “It’s Always Your Way,” “The Half M,” and “If You Were On The Ceiling” challenge as much as inspire such forays into the abstract and yourself. Conversely, “Subdivision,” “Kale,” and “Crowded,” provide for less deciphering space as the names meander very close to the literal.
After so much examining, one is wont to grow suspicious of what seems to be the obvious. But before things get too far out of hand, the artist’s sense of humor shines out in works such as “Sunshine” where a shape eerily familiar to a vintage Looney Tunes cartoon floats against warm, inviting solar colors. So, too, “Tri” shows us a stick figure running from what looks like little shapes of bikes and swimmers. Or are the bikes eye glasses and the swimmers actual eyes indicating people judging?