Media: marker, acrylic paint, spray paint, trash bags, expired flowers, paper
Gallery: Max. L Gatov Gallery West
About the Artist:
Josh Vasquez is an undergraduate student in the BFA Drawing and Painting major; he will be graduating next Spring. Vasquez is from downtown Los Angeles. He has been interested in art since he can remember, but did not seriously pursue art in his life until about two years ago. Painting is his largest passion in life.
Vasquez’s exhibition Vida/Morte is about life and death and their relationship with one another. The work is 50/50 concerned with the ideas of life and death; one idea is not more important or emphasized within his show. He uses live flowers and illustrations to express ideas about life and death. The live flowers represent the ending of life determined by the florist and the beginning of life by the hands of an artist. Skulls are also present in Vasquez’s work, representing death or the effects thereafter. There are no other ideas being explored within this body of work other than life and death, just as Vasquez intends.
When I look at this exhibition, I see three themes: life, death, and restoration. I see restoration in this work because two different forms of media are being restored to have new meaning. The trash bags are being restored in the form of canvases and the “expired” flowers are being restored in the form of works of art.
This exhibition consists of a variety of mixed media paintings, two of which are sculptural. The trash bag paintings are abstracted versions of the objects they are depicting. There are some realistic depictions in the skulls, such as Vasquez’s personal favorite piece in the show: Toro which is an illustration of a cow skull. The pieces range from 26″ x 9″ up to 30.5″ x 51″; all works are large scale, demanding full viewer attention. There are two layers in the trash bag paintings, forcing the viewer to look for deeper meaning within the work and stay with the piece for a longer amount of time. Vasquez explores black and white along with a muted pallet of color. There is also an exploration of smooth (trash bags) and rough (dying flowers and grainy, risen texture in Los Ojos Dos) texture between his works.
Most everyone at some point in their lives wonders about the connection between life and death. This question is brought into visual understanding in Vasquez’s body of work. For that reason, I find comfort in his pieces. I am comforted by the thought that life can be restored in new forms, such as with the flowers and trash bags in his works. I am also pleased aesthetically by his art because it displays an even distribution of realism and abstraction. Overall, I find Vida/Morte to be a beautiful show with significant meaning that is timeless.