L.A. Habitat is a weekly series that visits with 16 artists in their workspaces around the city.
This week’s studio: Enrique Martínez Celaya; Culver City, Los Angeles. Enrique Martínez Celaya was born in Cuba in 1964 and raised in Spain and Puerto Rico. “Being an undergrad on the East Coast, I hated all the Californians who boasted so much about their state,” said Celaya, in his studio in Los Angeles late last year. He initially headed west to pursue a master’s in quantum electronics at UC Berkeley. “When I came here,” he said, “I understood why so many people were into it.” Celaya’s sprawling studio, which he has inhabited since 2014, is situated on a nondescript street in Culver City. “It’s a city where you can be very public or very private. It’s nearly impossible not to be seen in New York if you don’t want to be seen. But in L.A., you can disappear or be completely in the middle of everything.”
Celaya’s career trajectory is somewhat unusual. In addition to making paintings and sculptures, which frequently incorporate slightly surreal figures and depictions of the natural world, he is also an author and trained physicist, having originally attended college to study applied and engineering physics at Cornell. “I always have a couple of things going on at once. I like the variety, everything kind of informs each other,” he said. He continues to turn to literature and science for inspiration, and explained that he sees an unbalanced relationship between art and other disciplines. “Despite the market success of the art world in the past 20 years, it’s completely irrelevant to any other field of engagement in terms of knowledge,” he said. “The art world has become a sort of satellite, only interesting to itself.” In addition to his prolific artistic output, Celaya maintains Whale & Star Press, a publisher of art, poetry, and critical theory that he founded in 1998.
Celaya is currently exhibiting work at LongHouse Reserve, in East Hampton, New York, and this summer will teach at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Aspen, Colorado. He will be participating in the Roth Fellowship at Dartmouth University, in Hanover, New Hampshire, from August 2016 through June 2017. Below, a look around his studio.