BIOGRAPHY: GEORGE YEPES

Born in a cross-fire hurricane beneath a meteor shower over Baja, then raised and educated in the crucibles of East Los Angeles, the meteoric double-barrel life of Painter/Muralist, George Yepes, continues to burn beyond the Los Angeles art world. Formed by a hard street life of poverty, and gang violence; this painter not only survived the gang violence of East L.A.’s toughest neighborhoods but he has also risen above and beyond the Chicano genre. Yepes' oeuvre incorporates art and architecture, ethereally beautiful women, world history, religion and literature presented in powerfully charged atmospheres. Self-taught, with a refined renaissance bent; from religious iconography to erotica George Yepes brings a confidence and knowledge of his craft that calls to mind the great Velasquez and Titian, and the great Mexican Muralists. Imbued with a contemporary street sense, his paintings and murals combine the best of both worlds where bravado meets classical standards.

Called "The City's Preeminent Badass Muralist" (L.A. New Times), and named a "Treasure of Los Angeles" in 1997 by Mayor Richard Riordan and the Los Angeles City Council, painter George Yepes takes no prisoners.  In 1992, George Yepes was named "El Fuego de Los Angeles" (The Fire of Los Angeles) by Councilman Richard Alatorre and the Los Angeles City Council.  In 1993, for the Los Angeles Subway project, George Yepes was partnered with Ricardo Legorreta, the AIA Gold Medal architect from Mexico City, as the duo "Lead Urban Design Team" in charge of designing seven subway stations beneath East Los Angeles. In 1997, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction named George Yepes to the State Task Force on the Visual and Performing Arts for the California Department of Education.  In 1998, the California Governor and Secretary of State hand picked George Yepes to design and paint a seventy-foot vaulted ceiling mural depicting "The Promise of California" at the State Capital in Sacramento.  In 1999, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously adopted a resolution commending George Yepes for establishing a training program that assisted teachers to effectively implement State Learning Standards for the Visual Arts. 

During the 1970’s, as one of the more prolific painters of the Los Angeles Chicano Mural Movement, Yepes gained his reputation as a ferocious painter when he became a founding partner in the top mural groups of East Los Angeles.  In 1974, George Yepes  was a founding member of the Public Art Center, El Centro de Arte Publico, Concilio de Arte Popular, and Corazon Art Productions.  In 1977, Yepes painted the 40 foot tall by 60 foot wide mural for Cesar Chavez and the 1977 Farmworkers Convention in Fresno, California. From 1979 through 1985, as an original founding partner of the mural group "East Los Streetscapers”, Yepes painted murals at the famous Estrada Courts and Ramona Gardens Housing Projects including: “Dreams of Flight”, “Ghosts of the Barrio”, “Read Between the Lines”, and the four panoramic “Moonscapes” murals in Culver City.  Over the course of six years, as a member of East Los Streetscapers, Yepes co-designed and painted 28 iconic murals that are regarded by historians as prime examples of the Los Angeles Chicano Mural Movement.

In 1985, after 11 years of group painting with the top East Los Angeles Art collectives, George Yepes decided that group painting wasn't suited to his temperament or pace. With grand scale and furious momentum Yepes has painted over 800,000 square feet of murals. He has painted eloquent, social, historical, and sacred images onto the facades of everything from churches, hospitals, guitars, and freeway overpasses, to movies and album covers. His 1988 album cover for Los Lobos titled "La Pistola y El Corazon" has won numerous awards, and is in many museum collections.

In 1992, George Yepes founded the Academia de Arte Yepes, a free mural painting academy through which Yepes (the sole teacher and funder) has taught over 2,000 students, for free, from the low-income neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Merging science, technology, and mathematics to gain a quality education and real-world applicable skills is not a new concept.  In 1993, twenty years before the STEAM Program took form in schools nationally, George Yepes and the Academia de Arte Yepes had already began to produce a series of ten Science and Space murals with (NASA) The National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  Beginning in 1993, to generate renewed interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and to cultivate and inspire the next generation of explorers; George Yepes and the Academia de Arte Yepes, in partnership with NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana: established and implemented a fourteen-year National Educational Model titled: "The Marriage of Art, Science, and Technology”. 

George Yepes' paintings are in forty museum collections, and have been collected by a widely diverse audience including Sean Penn and Madonna, Patricia Arquette, Nicolas Cage, Cheech Marin, Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Josh Brolin, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Rodriguez.  In 1999, Yepes' Warner Bros. album cover for Los Lobos titled "La Pistola y El Corazon" was selected as one of the One Hundred Best Album Covers of All Time by the editors of Rolling Stone Magazine. Yepes' artwork is also on the cover of Untie the Strong Woman by bestselling author, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  Her book, Women Who Run With the Wolves was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 145 weeks.

Since the year 2000, Yepes has collaborated with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino on numerous movie production projects including Once Upon a Time in Mexico 2003; the double feature Grind House 2007; Machete 2010; and the new 2014 Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller movie, Sin City 2 "A Dame to Kill For".  Hollywood actors Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Eva Longoria, Carla Gugino, Marley Shelton, Patricia Arquette, Jessica Alba, Lady GaGa, Rose McGowen, Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, and Jamie Chung have modeled for several Yepes paintings.  

For over 44 years, Painter/Muralist - George Yepes, through his artwork, from East Los Angeles, to Princeton, Harvard, NASA, Dubai, and Hollywood's Silver Screens, he has been an ambassador of Art and Culture for the City of Los Angeles. On June 20, 2018, George Yepes was awarded the "City of Los Angeles Icon de Artes Medal". 

MEDIA QUOTES:    

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LA WEEKLY - 

"BEST INDESCRIBABLE WALL ART" - BEST OF LOS ANGELES

George Yepes.  "Muralist and Painter Yepes is Los Angeles' greatest

living Baroque artist. He proved this three years ago with his Tepeyac 

de Los Angeles mural on the front of St. Lucys Church, in City Terrace. 

Images of the Virgin de Guadalupe combined with Michelangelo’s Pieta. 

Now he has created an even more marvelous piece that I won’t attempt 

to describe, on the front of the White Memorial Medical Center, in 

Boyle Heights".

Marc B. Haefele, Writer

LA WEEKLY 

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ArtScene - 

"When it comes to sheer touch that combines beautiful control over line

and brushwork, yet seemingly spontaneous expression, 

George Yepes is among the best.  His darkly romantic excess can't help

but make you think he would have been Dante Gabriel 

Rossetti's (1828 - 1882, London, England), equal among the

Pre-Raphaelites.  But these saints and sinners are hardly a throwback.  

Yepes' painting has a visual density and suggestiveness that is as

tantalizing to the intellect as it is arresting for the eye".

ArtScene  

The Guide to over 450 Los Angeles Art Galleries and Museums

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“Tikkun Olam” To Repair the World mural dedication - 

"Like Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto (1518 - 1594, Venice, Italy), George

Yepes has the ability to pull down from heaven the designs which God has

for humans and paint them so people can discover through the paintings what they

are deaf to in words”.

Dr. David Carrasco, Professor - Historian of Religions

Editor-in-Chief, Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures

Director, Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project

Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America

Divinity School - Harvard University

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FINE ART “Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge"  

"But for those wary of celebrity endorsement, remember this: Even if the [Chicano Visions] 

exhibit is not a definitive collection of the genre, it presents works rarely seen in Texas, like those

of L.A. Hotshot George Yepes.  That alone makes this show worth seeing”.

Katy Vine, TEXAS MONTHLY

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San Antonio Express News  

Praising the Flesh: George Yepes paints otherworldly beauties

“Artist George Yepes was a child when he first encountered his muse in the form of a statue of La Virgen Dolorosa 

at the Catholic church his family attended in East Los Angeles.  Carved out of wood, the Madonna with a heart 

skewered by daggers looked exquisitely lovely in her anguish to the 4-year-old boy kneeling before her."

Elda Silva, Staff Writer

San Antonio, Texas

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“Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge”  

'Axis Bold as Love' is a major addition to Yepes' cult of the Madonna.  This is Yepes' re-imagination of the sacred at its best, 

for which he is studied by scholars.  Yepes describes this as a portrait of his 'Axis Mundi' - Courtney Reid - the Center of the Cosmos.  

Named after the Jimi Hendrix song to which Yepes painted this piece, the image is derived from Yepes' earliest impression of the beauty, 

Our Lady of Soledad de East Los Angeles.  La Soledad is the Madonna after the burial of Christ.  She is alone, in nature (the wild), 

in a storm (from within) of agony and ecstasy, before the Resurrection (in the threshold).   

Having come full circle, (from the nature goddess - to the idolatry of church - to the woman) this Madonna calls to mind the 

naturalistic Madonnas by Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519 and Sandro Botticelli 1415-1510: close, human, mortal, yet divine.

 

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"Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge” 

"The Color of Chicano": Axis Bold as Love

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego • La Jolla, CA

Exhibition reflects the many shades of Mexican Artistry:

"On the opposing side of the spectrum, however, sits the serenely beautiful portraits of George Yepes.  

Yepes' "Axis Bold as Love," reminiscent of Gustav Klimt's "Dane," is a prime example of his art nouveau-inspired strokes 

and brilliant color in his delicately sensuous portrayals of women, a popular theme in Nouveau.”

Sarah Wilkins, Senior Staff Writer 

Daily Aztec

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Coatlicue for Voyeurs - (Untitled) 

"George Yepes dramatizes with iconoclastic vigor the nature of radical art: he sends you back to your roots. But more than a voyage back to the land of your ancestors and to the soil that (allegedly) nurtured the soul of your people (you know the story), the roots that you go back to through the medium of George Yepes' work are your own: the roots under the ground on which you stand, all that is buried under you and, for that same reason, you can't remember. This is George Yepes' insight, encoded in his artwork in the form of acrylic riddles."

Dr. Roberto Cantu, Professor of English, Spanish, and Chicano Studies

California State University, Los Angeles

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“Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge” 

INTRODUCTION - THE CHICANO SCHOOL OF PAINTING

"The first time I stood in front of a Chicano painting -- it was George Yepes' Amor Matizado -- I had the same feeling as when I first heard a tune by the Beatles."

Cheech Marin, Actor

Chicano Visions - American Painters on the Verge

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"George Yepes is the rarest of talents. I own several of his paintings, and whenever someone walks in and sees them for the first time, I have to stand close so I can catch their jaws before they slam into the ground. George's work grabs you by the lapels and makes you feel as if you're discovering art for the first time. He's a master painter in the best sense, the art comes through him not from him. That is rare."

2004

Robert Rodriguez, Director

Austin, Texas

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Abrams, New York in association with The Field Museum, Chicago

"THE AZTEC WORLD" :    .....Nowhere is this clearer than in the luscious art of George Yepes, whose paintings often include Mexican Americans in the forms of skulls with sad penetrating eyes, skeleton-like features coursing through bodies or deathly white color covering the bodies of otherwise living people.  Yepes's most famous calavera piece, "La Pistola y El Corazon,"  appeared on the jacket of the Los Lobos CD of the same name.  It depicts a couple in full body profiles gazing into each other's faces while the male has a huge beating red heart and the female is carrying a large red pistol in her hands.  Their elegant clothes, drawing on Mexican fashion, mix with skeletal features that also show traces of marrow and blood.  Yepes was able to communicate a combination of death, sensuality, and sexuality in this widely distributed and purchased depiction of Chicano Life.  One of the original twists that Yepes gives to Chicano death imagery appears in a painting he entitled "Adelita."  It is reminiscent of the women who played important supportive roles in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and who were known as Adelitas and memorialized in a famous song by the name of "Adelita."  Yepes paints an attractive woman in a black, low-cut dress with her arms crossed, each hand holding a large red pistol.  Her skin is a pasty white color representing the skeletal color of death and the idea that this woman is somehow possessed by a combination of death and beauty and capable of alluring one to a confrontation with her guns.  Yepes once remarked.  "Copies of this painting have sold well and especially among women lawyers." 

Dr. David Carrasco, Historian of Religions 

Neil Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America 

Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford  Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures 

Harvard University   

 

"THE AZTEC WORLD" - Abrams, New York in association with The Field Museum, Chicago - Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia - Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes

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Hilton Worldwide 

GEORGE YEPES: "THE IZEL MURALS" • CONRAD HILTON HOTEL, DUBAI, UAE

Rudi Jagersbacher, area president, Middle East and Africa, Hilton Worldwide said:

"I am delighted that we have introduced The Conrad Dubai's attractive style and service to this new market as Hilton

Worldwide continues to expand our presence in the city of Dubai.  The Conrad Dubai will cater to the needs of the ever

increasing number of global, affluent travelers, and the sophistication of the hotel will perfectly compliment

the high-energy and vibrancy of Dubai."

"A jewel in The Conrad Dubai's crown is the Latin Supper Club, Izel, a carnival of Latin Artistry."

George Yepes:  The Izel Interior Mural/Paintings

Interior Architects: Wa International LLC, Dubai, UAE

Interior Architects: Fino International LLC, Dubai, UAE

Interior Architects: DEPA Interiors LLC, Dubai, UAE

The Izel • Conrad Hilton Hotel,  Level 7

115143 Sheikh Zayed Road

Dubai, United Arab Emirates