Shootout by Carlos Almaraz, a prominent artist in the 1970’s Los Angeles art scene, depicts a violent confrontation–a gunfight–between two individuals and two police officers. Despite the violent nature of this central spectacle, the painting is surprisingly serene, as Almaraz situates the altercation in what appears to be a beautiful Californian landscape.
The painting’s juxtaposition of the violent and action-packed nature of the shootout with the calm tranquility of the California landscape is striking, but also seamlessly interwoven with one another. The palm trees situated in the background, along with the clear blue skies, shows an idealized vision of California, a state generally perceived to non-Californians as idyllic. The discrepancy highlights the disparate nature of the perception of California to out-of-state tourists and the reality of actually living in one of California’s big cities–the reality of crime that coexists with the state’s natural beauty.
One might view the vintage, cherry red car used as a barrier as a nod to California car culture. This artwork, despite the ugliness of the violence depicted, illustrates California’s multifaceted character.
Artist: Carlos Almaraz
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Dimension: 15 x 24 in. (38.1 x 60.96 cm)
Collection: The Buck Collection at the UCI Institute and Museum for California Art
Copyright: © The Carlos Almaraz Estate 2018