Home Magazine Pepe Serna embodies Latin lore from the big screen to the canvas

Pepe Serna's interdisciplinary artistic practice transcends format limitation to shed light on Latino cultural history.

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Pepe Serna is a Mexican-American internationally renowned, award-winning actor and artist. Born in Texas in 1944, his first break in movies came in 1970 with the Roger Corman-directed film Student Nurses. Over the years Serna has appeared in over 100 films, most notably Scarface directed by Brian De Palma, where he played Joey Montana's (played by Al Pacino) friend Angel Fernandez (whose character was involved in the notorious “chainsaw scene”). He has also appeared on stage, including in his solo show El Ruco, Chuco, Cholo, Pachuco which is Serna’s version of the panorama of Latino cultural history.

Serna has been honored by the Screen Actors Guild Heritage Achievement Award; the League of United Latin American citizens, and the Estrella Award for Arts & Culture from the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Throughout his impressive acting career, he has produced lush art, inspired and influenced by his Mexican American heritage, the subject matter that makes his artworks immediately recognizable as his.

La Lola, 2010. Pepe Serna. Courtesy of Jumper Maybach Fine Art Gallery
Figure 1. Pepe Serna, La Lola, 2010. Courtesy of Jumper Maybach Fine Art Gallery

Whether on the big screen, on a stage, or on his canvas, Pepe Serna embodies a distinctly vibrant style of his own, and his characters in all formats vividly put the spotlight on Latino heritage. His subject matters are drawn from real-life experiences, and in his iconography, the spectator can identify elements from his Mexican heritage, such as the bright colors that flood his canvases, religious symbols, and the presence of traditional Mexican social environments and clothing. The women in his paintings, for instance, can be seen wearing Quechquemitls which is a heavily embroidered garment that has been worn by certain indigenous ethnicities in Mexico since the pre-Hispanic period.

In a career surpassing five decades, Serna's interdisciplinary artistic practice has provided spectators around the world with a characteristic insight into Latino traditions, stereotypes, and heritage. His return to his Mexican roots through his performances and paintings was the subject of the 2015 short documentary Life is Art.


Figure 2. Pepe Serna, La Conchita, 2010. Courtesy of Jumper Maybach Fine Art Gallery

Jumper Maybach Fine Art supports artists and endeavors that are artistic, cultural, and societally relevant. The gallery presents an environment that supports positivity through the evolution of color and the creation of art. Through his social awareness, community support, and diverse artist representation, Jumper Maybach seeks to heighten interest and commitment to diversity and equality. The gallery likes to be a part of its community: it is an LGBTBE diversity-certified business and also an active member of Chambers of Commerce.


Cover image: Pepe Serna, Love is But a Dance, 2010. Courtesy of Jumper Maybach Fine Art

Written by: Zara Colombo

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