roberto gil de montes
1950, Guadalajara, Mexico
Irreverent and serious, purposeful and inconclusive, Roberto Gil de Montes’ paintings explore the hidden images and forgotten or imagined stories of the exuberant everyday life that he sees. A black mark in the centre is a void, or an egg, a mass grave, or a dance floor, a stage, and also a veladora-flecked piece of earth for planting. The canvas is fertile terrain on which to realign the spaces between the real and the imaginary: figures float in abstraction or are laid across surfaces, misfits and explorers in their own habitat.
Roberto Gil de Montes was born in 1950 in Guadalajara, Mexico. As a teenager his family relocated to the United States where he later went on to receive a BFA and MFA from Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles. As a young artist he became involved in the Chicano art movement in and around Los Angeles, developing relationships with artists such as Carlos Almaraz. In the 1980s, he returned to Mexico City where he worked at the Museo de Arte Moderno and on Artes Visuales, the prestigious arts journal that explored visual culture in Latin America. Roberto returned to Los Angeles to concentrate on his painting practice and began to exhibit widely. He also became involved in the creation of LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) and began to show with Jan Baum Gallery, the only gallery at that time to show Black, Latinx and Asian artists on the West Coast. In 2000, he and his partner, Eddie, packed up their home in Echo Park and moved, via San Francisco, to La Peñita, a fishing town on the Pacific coast of Nayarit, Mexico, where they had spent many holidays. Roberto continues to live in La Peñita and paints in a studio directly overlooking the town plaza, a block from the coast.
Among many other solo and group exhibitions, Gil de Montes was included in the seminal Hispanic Art in the US: Thirty Contemporary Painters and Sculptors which toured the United States in the late 1980s. More recently, Gil de Montes featured as part of Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A., at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and organized by ONE Archives. The exhibition, framed in the important city-wide event Pacific Standard Time LA/LA, mapped the intersections and collaborations among a network of queer Chicano artists and their artistic collaborators from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. In 2017, his personal archival collection was acquired by ONE Archives, University of Southern California.
Roberto Gil de Montes’s work is part of various collections such as National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Museum Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum, Print department; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach California; Mexican Government, Art in Embassies; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Mexico and The Arizona State University Museum Phoenix, Arizona.