Sergio Palacios attended The University of Texas in Austin to study art in the highly competitive era of the early-to-mid 1990s. The school at this time was electric with so many talented and highly-driven artists, including myself, studying there. Even within this eclectic and punky art program, Sergio was an outsider who followed his muse rather than the suggestions of teachers. He primarily painted at home instead of at the sprawling undergrad open studios, and he created apocalyptic paintings of storms, volcanos, and skeletons bloodily sweeping through towns obsessively filled with expressive

little figures, trees, and creatures. They were hardcore. Like many of us from that class, Sergio drifted to NYC after college to pursue art, but a steady career as an artist and inclusion in exhibitions eluded him. Survival mode kicked in and led him to random art handling gigs, which eventually shifted to drywalling and painting walls full-time to make his living– wall work. “Still a day laborer,” he recently mused as this trade pays the rent, an irony that he is quick to identify given his extensive arts education and a tether that still binds him to his Chicano roots.

When the pandemic struck, it led to a period of prolonged isolation for Palacios and a time without any paying work. For months, and then years, he was stuck at home alone in a small apartment and completely broke. Most days were spent quite literally staring into space at the walls and ceilings surrounding him. During this uncomfortable stint, Palacios unexpectedly began painting full-time for himself again for the first time in decades. A burst of creative energy overtook him resulting in a series of modest-scaled, soft, and strangely abstract representations of the walls and corners that had been haunting and beckoning to him at home.

In these representations of the most mundane and ordinary architecture, Palacios extracts something sublime. Some canvases are barely there, completely washed out in thick but subtle layers of white paint and other works are more psychedelic, enlivened by tracers and spirits floating like orbs in the rooms. Through these paintings, Palacios has unlocked a passage into a liminal space that hovers gently between abstraction and realism, and by exorcising the corners and walls that physically confined him, the artist leads us somewhere both sacred and cosmic, and more importantly relatable to all.

Sergio Palacios (b. 1971 Corpus Christi, TX) lives and works in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He received a BFA at the University of Texas at Austin in 1996, attended Skowhegan in 1997 and completed an MFA at SUNY Purchase in 1999.