See What You Mean: Fotonovelas

Harry Gamboa Jr., Getty Artists Program 2017

As part of the See What You Mean project, artist Harry Gamboa Jr. worked with over 40 young adults and college students from across Los Angeles during his yearlong Getty Artists Program (GAP) residency. Casting student performers, seasoned professionals, and five notable paintings from the Museum's collection as characters in surreal visual melodramas, Gamboa created a series of twelve playful and provocative fotonovelas – or photo-stories. Gamboa's fotonovelas, a medium he has worked in for many years, are inspired by his childhood fascination with comic books and the rich tradition of graphic and photographic adaptations of popular stories and films that gained popularity in Latino and Chicano communities during the 1950s.

These new fotonovelas offer a playful platform for addressing more serious questions, which resonate with both individuals and cultural institutions alike. For example: What elevates us? What separates us? How does context inform ideas of access and identity? How can humor destabilize authority?

The See What You Mean fotonovela series can be viewed below and are available for free download.

Sunless Under the Sun

Blooming in Concrete

Head's Turn To Silence


Slipping Into Something More

Learn more about the five Getty paintings featured in the See What You Mean fotonovelas:

Portrait of Louis XIV, after 1701, after Hyacinthe Rigaud, oil on canvas. Gift of J. Paul Getty
Irises, 1889, Vincent van Gogh, oil on canvas. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
David with the Head of Goliath, about 1630s, Pietro Novelli, oil on canvas. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Arii Matamoe (The Royal End), 1892, Paul Gauguin, oil on coarse fabric. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
St. Sebastian Thrown into the Cloaca Maxima, 1612, Lodovico Carracci, oil on canvas. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles