Enter Casa Ysasi, a Los Angeles-based studio and gallery project founded and run by two Mexican brothers, Patricio and Iñigo Hernandez-Ysasi. Now based in West Adams, the studio side serves as a vehicle for their own creative pursuits while the gallery side showcases work from various Oaxacan artists they have met in their travels. With a deep respect for the artists, traditions, and narratives they represent, Pato and Iñi have created a platform that celebrates and showcases the captivating voices and works coming out of Oaxaca's artist community, including Karla of Ka Iluminación and Taller de Sueños’ Isaias Jiménez. We are lucky to have Casa Ysasi as part of our familia so we took some time to ask them a few questions about their origins and the artists they represent.
Iñigo: I have always been passionate about taking things apart to understand how they work. I pull from many sources of inspiration to create combinations of materials in new and unconventional ways. Whether it’s combining acrylic on top of a neon light to diffuse the light, or upcycling cardboard and little motors to create playful sculptures. With no formal education in design, art, or architecture I use that to my advantage with the ability to work without setting rules or parameters.
Patricio: My personal work explores the intersection between film, photography and text. I was introduced to street photography when I moved to NYC in 2018 and identified with the work of Roy DeCarava and Manuel Alvares Bravo. Unlike other mediums, I appreciate that photography is a deductive art in which searching was at the center of the craft.
We have gotten to work with so many incredible artists over the past years, many of which have become mentors and close friends. For our first exhibition, we showcased the works of Ka Iluminación and Taller de Sueños.
We first came across Karla’s lamps in 2020 during a trip to Oaxaca. We were drawn to the sculptural forms, warm light, and simplicity of the lamps. We almost missed our flight in an attempt to get to meet with Karla before heading back to LA. Visiting Karla’s studio only reinforced how special her lamps were and the thoughtfulness she put into each piece.
Earlier in that trip our friend Juan, introduced us to Isaías Jiménez. Isaías is the son of the Mexican artist Manuel Jiménez Ramírez, creator of the wood carvings (better known as alebrijes) in Oaxaca. Growing up our house was full of these magical wooden and paper ‘alebrijes’. We spent several days with Isaías Jiménez and his family who kindly welcomed us to their home and shared with us all about the rich tradition of wood carving in Oaxaca.
There were many trips made over the past years to establish relationships with the artists before feeling it was time to do an exhibition. There is a lot of respect and tradition in Oaxaca that we wanted to honor. It is clear when you visit these artists’ studios and see the work in person that they put their soul into each piece. There is a different pace of life and appreciation for gentle beauties found in daily life.
Overall, we want to stay open to the project taking different shapes while not losing sight of why we started it in the first place. Whether that comes in the form of designing a space, curating a show, making a light or spotlighting artists that inspires us. We would also want to focus on having a social and community initiative to the project. We have been very inspired by the Underground Museum and would love to have a space where we can host workshops, exhibitions and talks. We want Casa Ysasi to be a welcoming place for someone to see the benefits of living with art.
We would love to have a drink with the artist Francisco Toledo. In Oaxaca, the Maestro Toledo is very beloved and it would be so special to get to meet him and share a Mezcal.
It all started on a road trip driving cross country from Miami to Los Angeles. We knew we wanted to start a company as brothers and create an umbrella for all our creative pursuits. Organically over time, we decided to have two sides to the project: a studio with an emphasis on light and a gallery where we collaborate with artists through limited editions in a variety of mediums. We want to create a space where we can showcase our work and in parallel highlight the work of artists that inspire us. The project in many ways has become the work itself and we know it will continue to change shapes.
We are very inspired by the Japanese philosophy towards functionality and art - in the United States, fine art, industrial goods, and hand-worked items are separated, but in Japan no boundary is imposed between them. We were drawn to lifestyle shops, in particular Tortoise General Store and their ability to blur the line between craft and fine art.
In Mexico, similar to Japan, art is a part of daily life and not seen exclusively as a luxury or fine art. There is a space for what is referred to as “popular art” or artisanal. Growing up surrounded by art and craft we want to try to create spaces and installations that continue to raise questions around the role of fine art and functionality. As a studio we are very passionate about handmade objects and hope to continue working with the people keeping these traditions alive.