José Lerma was born 1971 in Seville, Spain, and grew up in Puerto Rico. His practice investigates painting, and attempts to collapse the historical with the autobiographical. His final works are part art history, part personal mythology and several recurring themes deal with the tension between the heroic and the pathetic, and the rise and fall of great figures. While his work is rooted in painting, the final product usually results in elaborate installations that are often created with office materials, musical instruments and home furnishings.


Lerma earned an MFA from the University of Wisconsin Madison (2002) and a BA from Tulane University, and also attended the CORE Residency Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skohegan, ME. He is currently a professor of art at the Art Institute of Chicago. He lives and works in Chicago and San Juan, Puerto Rico.