Jose De Avila (“Toon 92”) is a Chicago artist that uses his graffiti roots and urban street elements to create his pop-style paintings. Spray paint is his primary medium, however he also includes latex paint, graffiti drip markers, and molding paste to produce the textured and layered backdrops in his work. Many backdrops also include newspaper clippings and Mexican Loteria playing cards – a tribute to his heritage – as part of his work’s story. Love is the most common theme found across his paintings illustrated by the “love” street tags and “throw-ups,” but it is the darker, extreme sides of love that intrigue him:
“We’re all affected and shaped by love in so many ways. Some people have too much, some have too little, and that strongly influences our relationships and/or how we navigate this world for better or worse. It’s a powerful force. We all “love” something, whether its another person, money, work, whatever... and if you’re not careful it can take over your life and over time deteriorate your soul. It requires a delicate balance.”
This “deterioration of the soul” is often represented as a rust motif in his work. The stencil pop portraits are of past and present icons who at some point or throughout their lives were challenged by love in so many ways – sex, fame, vanity, drugs, relationships, etc. From afar we see vibrant colors and smiles, but as you get closer you will notice the imperfections, the struggles, the things that make us all human.