Artist: Joshua Vasquez
Artist Tag: Gatov-West
Media: Spray paint, Sharpie markers, plastic trash bags, wood panels as frames, red rosin paper
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
About the Artist:
The artist named Josh Vasquez is an undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach and he is planning to graduate from the BFA Painting and Drawing major a year from now. Josh’s main interests are painting and making art in general, which he has been doing for a majority of his life. He stated that he had just started taking art much more seriously around two years ago, and he now has a non-degree solo show. Josh’s interesting pieces explore the concepts of life and death and how they contrast.
The two main forms of artwork in the showroom consist of paintings on “plastic” canvases along with dozens of dried flowers places on paper that seemed to resemble dirt and the ground. The paintings on the canvases were extremely intriguing to me because there were many jagged and straight lines that formed from the Sharpie markers. I really liked how the streaky appearance of the marker lines added to the roughness of the pieces. The canvases were especially enjoyable to look at because the works were created on clear plastic as opposed to the average white canvases. In addition to the black and white paintings with a jagged appearance, there were also softer aspects of the showcase that included dried flowers. Although the flowers were all dried, dead, and placed in a straight line, they gave off a much warmer tone. These flowers had bursts of color that brought vibrancy into the pieces. Overall the colors and materials seemed to contrast one another which ultimately made them complimentary.
From what the artist has said about his work, it can be seen that he is interested in the aspects of life and death, hence the name of the exhibition. He explored these two ideas by considering pieces from artists such as Van Gogh, Kahlo, Cezanne, and O’Keefe and interpreting them into his own thoughts, feelings, and images. He did this by including materials that all have a “life span”. Although everything will come to an end at one point in time, they will all do so at a different pace. For example, the flowers will not last as long as the trash bags and so on. I believe he did this to display how every single life has a different expiration date. Whether the time of death may be fairly soon or dozens of years from now, all things must come to an end. He incorporated the ideas of life and death by using contrasting colors and materials, and by making these items seem hard and soft. The contrast between these things represents the greater ideas that none of us can control, which are life and death.
I really appreciate this exhibition because Joshua Vasquez explored a concept that so many people are afraid of: death. When discussing life and death, sometimes it can be heard to explain, imagine, understand, and illustrate, but I think he did an excellent job at displaying both. Although the exhibit seemed to be centered around death at a first glance, the more I looked the more I realized it represented life just as much as it did death. The paints and markers that were used were black and the flowers were dead and the canvases portrayed images such as skulls so it gave off a feeling of gloom but also a feeling of vibrancy and brightness. I was especially drawn to the colors of the flowers, I loved that even though they were dead, they still had great color in them. All of the pieces did an excellent job at demonstrating the conceptual ideas of life and death. Now when I think of these things, wonderful pieces of artwork come in to my mind.