Lorenzo De Los Angeles’ vision is straight out of the cabinets of curiosities of the sixteenth century. As with those cabinets—filled to the ceiling by sculpted shells, taxidermy animals, and precious stones intricately carved with allegorical scenes—De Los Angeles interweaves nature and art in delicately-rendered colored pencil drawings and strange sculpture objects.

I was awed also by the treasure trove of antique curiosities De Los Angeles has accumulated in his home studio during a recent visit. Over every surface were flea market collectibles, natural curiosities, and sculptures that De Los Angeles himself cobbled together from salvaged parts.

One such sculpture—a Fiji Mermaid of sorts, with a face that resembled a Chinese guardian lion–rested on an old TV set. The walls were covered with some of the best blacklight posters I’ve ever seen, as well as Victorian pictures in frames and shadowboxed reliquaries (some of which were made by De Los Angeles).

LDL5

Indeed, the world De Los Angeles collects around him intermingles perfectly with his own drawings but also with another modern wunderkammer, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, where one is not sure where artifice ends and reality begins.

De Los Angeles’ earlier work, from over fifteen years ago, focuses on obsessively-rendered imaginary plant and sea life—often with an unsettling visceral quality (think nightmarish aliens conjured by David Cronenberg and Ernst Haeckel). Such biological fantasy forms are set against a white ground, as if they were specimens in a museum.

LDL2

More recent subject matter delves into more esoteric territory: a mystic landscape of an abandoned pagan temple, overrun by cannabis leaves, a seance with clouds of starry ectoplasm swirling in the air, and a device that resembles a creation from the Codex Seraphinianus.

De Los Angeles still dwells on these subjects in his latest work, though his technique has loosened. Trading laborious pencil blending for more direct marks, he makes veils of abstract texture from dappled watercolor and acrylic. As De Los Angeles sees them, the drawings are related to mediumistic art, works that are channeled or received intuitively from a supernatural force.

"Snakebite" (2010-2012) colored pencil and watercolor on paper, 22x30”

“Snakebite” (2010-2012) colored pencil and watercolor on paper,
22×30”

What’s more, they capture the essence of automatism—the obsession with seeing forms in chaos, akin to the work of self-taught artists like J.B. Murray or Madge Gill.

I can imagine De Los Angeles’ haunted pictures in a gallery, enshrined along with his collections of psychedelia and Victorian curiosities. (Alessandro Keegan)

"Formation" (2012), colored pencil and watercolor on paper, 22x30”

“Formation” (2012), colored pencil and watercolor on paper, 22×30”

"Radiance" (2009-2012), colored pencil and watercolor on black paper, 22x30”

“Radiance” (2009-2012), colored pencil and watercolor on black paper,
22×30”