Paul Botello


My works are symbolic narrative that examine both public (murals) and personal (canvas) themes. Thought provoking traditional and contemporary themes that range from the sacred to the savage and themes that also address pertinent social issues. My usual medium is acrylic for wall works and canvases. My methodology combines the dynamic interfacing of expressive line creating a configuration or pattern unifying the surface, realizing and fusing together form, feeling and content. The balance of subtlety and boldness, rawness and refinement are utilized to express the duality of life. Energy, color and composition are integral components of my work uniting to evoke a sense of the spirit, the vital animating force within my being and my art.

A Cross to Bear, 1983-4

Acrylic on canvas on wood

6 ft. x 8 ft.

“It is a big canvas filled with a haunting scene rendered in tiny brushstrokes of many colors. Robotic looking figures and limbs are connected to fantastic machinery. A levitating two-handed arm drips blood into a funnel connected to a vast array of cylinders and cones.

“The figures look as if their bloodletting is what keeps the machinery going. It’s their service to the cross, which floats horizontally across the center of the painting.

The mood here is one of religion as a burden rather than salvation. The structure of Botello’s canvas, as much as its imagery, conveys this theme forcefully, since his figures look imprisoned within the swirling ground of the painting.” Robert Pincus, The San Diego Union Newspaper, 9-4-86

Amalgamation #1 -1999

From the Amalgamation Series of four, each are ink and acrylic on (5) pieces of arches paper that are glued together. Each finished piece is 22” x 92”.

These works are on paper using seriagraph inks and acrylic paint. This series began as an idea, then drawings which were enlarged and traced by placing a silkscreen over each drawing. The image then is created by the monoprint process in color. Some of the spontaneous, accidental monoprint surface qualities are then enhanced, left alone or deleted with acrylic paint.

Each piece is composed of five individual Arches papers that are combined and glued together to create one work. This combination of parts is a metaphor for a mestizo. I wanted to fuse and merge man and woman, past and present, Indigenous, European and American cultures, which are all a part of my schema and form the many facets of my work. That is why many of my works are also composed of autonomous units that collectively create a more “complex whole.”

The women that I have painted are composed of images that reflect their mind and soul. The skin is removed to see deeper and to allow their inner composition to become visible. They all wear masks, what lies beneath the masks, beneath the skin, is what I am focusing on. The “content of their character” is my interest.

Our husk is how we are seen by others. We are assessed and judged by our shape, gender, age, color, the type of car we drive, and by the clothes we wear. None the less stereotypes form and it is not until our actions, thoughts and spirits speak that our true self appears. I think of these pieces as four sisters/directions/seasons/elements, related but different, they are mothers/creators holding their children which are a part of them. The children range in age from fetus to adolescent to adult and all are an integral part of the women. The four works represent the many positive aspects of humanity that aspire towards a deeper understanding of the mysteries and miracles of life. The works consolidate symbols that represent to me the many fields of knowledge, man and nature; sciences, arts, philosophy, technology, literature, history, psychology, etc.

Saint Sebastian, 1991

acrylic on canvas on wood

3 ft. x 6 ft.

A modern unique rendition of the classic scene of Saint Sebastian the Christian martyr who was murdered because of his beliefs. He is a living temple, as he is pierced with the arrows of his demise we see a hole in his body being filled with the light of the rising sun/son.

Paul Botello, Biography

I have lived in East Los Angeles for all my life, my elementary. I am a third generation Mexican American, eight child of nine who lives amongst neighbors whose kids are first generation and because of this I feel my heritage around me like a blanket giving me a sense of comfort and sense of community. Living in the Twenty-first century I am very aware of the multi-cultural world that I am a part of, and so from this context I feel my art should reflect this diversity yet come from my unique perspective and schema. That is why my work is universal as well as personal and cultural.

I have gained experience and have been educated in the streets painting murals, in schools earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and from traveling to Europe and Mexico where my roots originated.

My works on canvas and paper have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout California and the world. I have executed 35 murals within the last 18 years, sixteen of which are solo pieces. My murals have been featured in the movies Bound by Honor, Blood In, Blood Out, Mi Familia, Training Days and a repeated segment of KCET’s “Sesame Street.” The segment is a demonstration of the mechanics and execution of a mural. My works have also been published in various books, magazines and newspapers. My work can be seen on walls throughout Los Angeles and I have also had the pleasure to paint one of the largest murals in Berlin, Germany 72 ft. x 120 ft. I am presently collaborating with Architects, Engineers and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority designing an integrated Art/Architecture urban design for the MTS’s Subway Station at First Street and Lorena. Some of the materials will be enamel and porcelain on steel. The main theme is a syncretic manifestation of the Pre-Colombian and the Post-Modern mentality.

In my successive efforts to give back to the community, I have taught high school art for the Los Angeles Unified School District from 1989-96. I have also taught at Cal State University Los Angeles (painting) and at the Claremont colleges; at Pitzer college; mural painting (97), Pomona college; Chicano art/mural history (Spring 98-01). I am constantly recruiting aspiring young artists to assist with my murals. My students and assistants ages range from 8 to 58. I hope this will instill pride, commitment and self-confidence among the people that I work with. I have also collaborated with the Getty Institute, Roosevelt High School and Benjamin Franklin Library in a series of work shops with students mapping the cultures and interweaving histories of Boyle Heights creating both a mural and internet sight.