Artist: Josh Vasquez
Media: Paint on plastic, paint on paper, installation
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
About the Artist: Josh Vasquez hails from downtown Los Angeles, and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting. His passions and interests involve painting, and his themes often consist of the relationship between life and death.
Formal Analysis: Vasquez’s exhibition used many forms of media. Along the back and right wall were a series of paintings done on stretched plastic over a canvas, creating a beautiful layered affect. These pieces utilized black and white swirling lines of paint below the plastic juxtaposed by harder, more jagged lines above them. The images painted on the plastic appeared sharp and shadowed, and one was in the shape of a ghostly skull. On the left of the gallery was a massive (26 by 9 foot) piece of red rosin paper covered in large blotches of ink marker. The paper appeared to be crumbling, and resembled an old, thin piece of bark. The blotches of ink were sporadic and infested the surface of the paper, making the red and black blend into one. Finally, in the middle of the gallery was a bed of dead flowers, all lined up neatly on top of an old cloth. This installation covered much of the middle of the gallery, and the petals and pieces of organic material strayed out and across the floor. The flowers, in their parallel positions, created a sort of bed that one may lie down on to rest for their final sleep.
Content Analysis: Vasquez’s Vida/Morte illustrates the relationship between life and death. The dead flowers in the middle of the gallery are given a new “life” through being a part of the art installation. While the flowers represent life, the skulls found within the paintings explore death. This life cycle loops its way throughout the installations in the gallery, and can be found in many of the artist’s inspirations, such as Van Gogh and O’Keefe. Vasquez also interprets the themes of light/dark, femininity/masculinity, and hard/soft within the images and installations. These opposite attractions create something that is a blend of our existence, and of the existence of everything that helped to create the art itself.
My Experience: I found Vida/Morte to be very stimulating and aesthetically pleasing. From the moment of walking into the gallery, the massive painting on red rosin paper caught my eye, and the splattered black ink created a sense of primal awakening within me. The dead flowers lined up on the floor made my mind immediately think of death, and of a funeral inopportune enough to not be able to afford living flowers. The paintings struck me the most; I loved the shadowy layers created by the stretched plastic, and the seemingly sporadic lines that actually created an image with a purpose. The entire collection had a very morbid air about it, yet the bark-like rosin paper and loose petals evoked themes of life, though it may be fading. I suppose all life is constantly fading, whether it is newborn or old.