Other Voices: Gilbert Luján 

Gilbert Luján

Gilbert “Magú” Luján (1940–2011) was a sculptor, painter, and muralist. In 1973 Luján, Carlos Almaraz, Robert “Beto” de la Rocha, and Frank Romero formed the influential artists collective Los Four. In an excerpt from an interview with Jeffrey Rangel, Luján explains the dynamics of the group. (Oral history interview with Gilbert Sánchez Luján, November 7–17, 1997. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.)

Rangel: I sometimes get surprised that people as different as yourself and Almaraz and Romero and de la Rocha [could] come together. It seems like you guys [were] all coming from different areas. How does that work? How does that coalesce?

Luján: I think that was the beauty of Los Four, because what I had been doing up to that point was I was trying to find art groups that would speak to these issues, and here we had an ideal situation. We had four different, really, archetypes of the community. We had Carlos being who he was, Frank and Beto being who they were. All coming together and merging together and creating artwork that was pretty neat, and yet we were able to, using our egos…. Either we were countering them or building on them or superimposing them, so that we finally wound up with a fifth entity. And that was Los Four. See, it all worked together, once we started working, because some of the elements that I brought to the group were, not only looking to indigenous experience or those roots, but to utilize the tools that graffiti guys were using, employing low-rider techniques and attitudes and translating them into art forms. Now Carlos and Frank, they had no notion of this. In 1971 when I met Carlos, that’s when I began to harass him about these things. And he would tell me that he didn’t want to hear that shit—basically—because his orientation was New York, Western culture, and he wanted to be Jackson Pollock…. So I think that the four of us—I keep going back to what you were saying—that it was one of the features of Los Four that I think was extraordinary and worked. We were able to, as four people, merge together and create artwork that was reasonable and abstract, and all the four sensibilities went to work together. 

 

Return to Other Voices: Reflections on Almaraz's Legacy  

Return to Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz