Artist: Josh Vasquez
Exhibition: Vida / Morte
Media: Ink markers, plastic trash bags, wood, rosin paper, flowers, spray paint
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Josh Vasquez is an undergraduate student at CSULB, he is enrolled in the School of Art and is in the Drawing and Painting program. Vasquez is interested in contrasting ideas, such as femininity and masculinity, and life and death, as seen in this exhibit. He stated that art has always been involved in his life, being from downtown Los Angeles originally.
Upon laying my eyes on Vasquez’s work, I first noticed the lack of color and the use of lines. Each normal-sized work consisted of a frame with a translucent trash bag bound tightly over it, some of them with a smaller canvas behind the translucent bag. Soft lines were prominent throughout all of the pieces, but some of the space filling in the smaller pieces consisted of harsh, straight lines. These were done with paint markers and spray paint. The 2 larger works were done on red rosin paper and had more of a texture; Vasquez used acrylic paint on these. On the floor was the second of the larger pieces, it included dead flowers that still had some color in their pedals. Every piece, although it may have consisted of contradicting lines and ideas, created a fluid viewing experience.
Vasquez’s work is strikingly dark, but not in a depressing or off-putting kind of way. None of the pieces seemed to follow a constrained idea at first glance and after speaking to Vasquez he stated that each piece was, “more of a conversation [between life and death] than anything”. The flowers were more comforting than anything else in the room, somewhat of a peaceful disembarking from the dull and harsh paper it laid upon. He states in his Artist Statement that each material used is used to connect to the theme; the plastic will last longer than the canvas and the flowers will decompose before the paper does.
I have explored many forms of art and experienced various types of artistic expression throughout my visits to numerous museums and I have to say that I would put Josh Vasquez’s gallery in my top 5. Nothing was forcibly explained and he did not attempt to reach for a deeper meaning behind the art, it felt honest and simply laid out. Life and death are constant topics in my life, and my view was altered because of this exhibit. It showed me (in a physical form) that life and death can coexist in very close quarters without interference. I am honored to have seen this exhibit in person and, frankly, nervous to be around the artist.