Wk 3 – Artist Conversation – Josh Vasquez
About Josh Vasquez
Josh Vasquez is a student here at CSULB and is graduating this upcoming week. He grew up in Downtown LA before moving here to long beach and enrolled in the BFA Painting and Drawing program at our school. He often likes to explore the comparisons and contrasting elements of life and death, masculinity and femininity in his works.
Vasquez has a variation with the works in his gallery. Most of his artwork has the incorporation of transparency, he uses clear trash bags with shadings of black sharpie to formulate his images. Some of these pieces have canvases behind them, so that you can see the image above and the image within. Another art artpiece he has is an enormous painting on brown paper with black brush strokes. All the paint seems to be a smooth texture and while does not form a clear shape, it comes off as elegant and defined. Finally his last pieces of art in the gallery consist of long black or brown paper with a pile of dried out flowers on top. Contrary to most of his work, the flowers demonstrate a bright and colorful contrast, filled with vibrant reds, pinks, oranges, and yellows.
When talking to Vasquez, he told me that most of his works revolve around the theory of life and death, masculinity and femininity. Pointing out the variation of color with the flowers compared to the blacks and white of the rest of his work, he described that he allowed the colors of nature to represent his ideas rather than forcing them on his works himself. It seems as though he is trying to reveal that life and death themselves are simple, they do not need any specific rules or complexity, hence the reasoning for the blacks and whites. The color, however, signifies the beauty of life and how easy it is to come by. While the blacks and whites were forced on the paper by hand, representing the human instinct of trying to understand the world around us and creating these unnecessary concepts, the color is given to us freely, does not hold strains, and is offered to us by nature and the gift of life itself.
Synthesis / My Experience
I found Vasquez’s work to be inspirational. By breaking down the concepts of life and death through the simplistic colors of black and white, while also allowing them to represent gender, he develops a concept of insignificance. By downplaying the emotions of one’s passing, he is able to alleviate the fears of death so that one can instead focus on life. Within one of his works, with the image of a skull and the words “it doesn’t have to be more than this” inside the socket, one can feel a sense of security. That they can spend their time enjoying the present rather than worrying about the future. Additionally, I was very impressed with the use of transparency in his work. By using clear trash bags with shading on top and a painted canvass within, Vasquez is able to demonstrate art within art. I feel as though the purpose of this was to show the soul within oneself, that there are always two sides to a situation. With the dark shading and lightness on the outside and a similar painting on the inside, the colors-or lack there of-can represent the different forms of darkness encoded with a person, either physically or emotionally. Finally I found Vasquez’s art piece with the flowers to be picturesque and beautiful. With the vibrancy of the colors contrasted on a dark black plane, they were able to stand out and be appreciated, just as life should be. In the end, from Vasquez’s work, we can learn that sometimes in life, you must really stop to smell the roses.