- Artist: Josh Vasquez
- Exhibition: Vida/Morte
- Media: Ink Markers, Spray Paint, Dried Flowers, Clear Trash Bags, Red Rosin Paper, Wood
- Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Max L. Gatov Gallery West
- Website: joshvasquez.com
- Instagram: @joshybehr
- Twitter: @Joshybehr
- Tumblr: Joshybehr
Josh Vasquez is an Undergraduate student and a fifth year at Cal State Long Beach. He is in the Painting and Drawing Program of the CSULB School of Art and is from Downtown Los Angeles. Josh has been painting ever since he was a kid; however, he has been painting seriously for the past two years. He stated that besides photography, he does not have many interests outside of art and expressed how his work explores the ideas of life and death, as “Vida” means life and “Morte” means death.
Josh’s artwork involved neutral colors of black and white. The drawings were created with ink markers on clear plastic trash bags and had a combination of curved, horizontal, and vertical lines. A few geometric shapes were used, such as triangles and circles, but most of the shapes were irregular, such as the skulls and roses. There was a lot of negative space, since each piece of artwork included much detail. There was one pattern I viewed from Josh’s piece with the rose. In this drawing, he created a repeating pattern of circles, to ultimately make a giant spiral. The lines in Josh’s work also were jagged and sinuous, and had a smooth texture. He used sharpies and spray paint for the drawings and discarded flowers for his two pieces on the ground. Wood panels and red rosin paper were used to mount the drawings onto the walls.
Josh’s artwork of life and death focused on the ideas of two opposite, yet simple elements. He was able to help people visualize his point through flowers and skulls, since these two items specifically symbolize more than just life and death. Josh hoped to further emphasize his intentions through the topics of femininity and masculinity, black and white, and hard and soft. He drew inspiration from various artists, such as Vincent Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and Georgia O’Keefe and then used his own interpretation to create the pieces we see at the gallery. All of the materials used supported Josh’s theme of a lifespan. For example, the plastic will live longer than the ink and paint that rests upon it and the paper will survive a longer amount of time compared to the discarded flowers. Josh wanted to capture the aspect of life and show how each of the pieces of art were separate, yet similar. They each will run their own course. Josh stated that the constant circling was his interpretation of a rose and that he was was in a weird meditative state as he worked on his art. He was frustrated, but was not focusing on that factor and instead wants each person to find their own interpretation within his artwork.
The experience of this Artist Conversation was fascinating. I really enjoyed being able to learn about the pieces of art directly from Josh. His interpretation of life and death was refreshing, as I felt the same way. I agreed with my fellow classmate Megan, as he made the ideas of life and death simple. Many times people over-complicate life and death and end up confusing their listeners. However, through Josh’s symbolism I have a better understanding of these basic concepts. My favorite piece of his was “Los Ojos.” I loved how the artwork was lying on the ground instead of the wall. It gave me a completely different perspective than the usual mounted artwork and I just really loved the whole idea of it. It was genius to use the discarded dried flowers and place them on a piece of paper. “Los Ojos” emphasized how something can look simple, yet be filled with so much depth, the closer and long you look at it. Lastly, Josh’s interpretation of a rose mesmerized me. The constant spiraling strokes caught my attention right away and reminded me of my own interpretation of a rose. I used to doodle a lot when I was younger, and my go-to subject was flowers, and more specifically roses. It was very difficult for me to draw a rose that actually looked like a rose. Therefore, I would end up just drawing a bunch of circles similar to Josh’s view of a rose.
Artist Conversation tag: > Gatov-West