Artist: Josh Vasquez
Exhibition: I Love The Way You Fall Asleep
Media: Oil Paints
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Max L. Gatov Gallery East
“I Love The Way You Fall Asleep” is the latest collection of art created by Los Angeles native Josh Vasquez, a senior who is set to receive his BFA in Long Beach State’s Drawing/Art program. The collection is inspired by LA, the city Josh grew up in and is part of an experiment he undertook to test his skills as an artist. “As an art student in an academic setting, one can fall into the trap of making ‘assignment’ based work”, he states about his inspiration for challenging himself, “I wanted to create this body of work without any feedback in order to see how far I have come with my own voice”.
The exhibition displays elements very reminiscent to Los Angeles – from the graffiti style letters of the text to the dried palm tree branches that were laid on the floor. When you first walk into the gallery, you are greeted by a wall listing the artist and exhibition name as well as branches of blackened, dried palm tree leaves that immediately gives off the ambience that one can only achieve from being in LA. On the remaining walls were several canvas’ with each having their own differences from the other – some had writing, others just had paint and some had writing and paint. The hues of the paint on the canvas differed in colors with some pieces hosting an entire palette of tones that contrasted each other; one of Josh’s bigger pieces that read “I Love Asleep” had visible, graffiti-style writing done in white paint, whilst the other pieces that featured text were not as visible and appeared to feature a different font.
Although his exhibition did display signs of a graffiti-esque style, Josh has stated that he does not consider himself a graffiti artist and would rather be referred to as an abstract painter; he continued on to say that the confusion does not bother him though since the surplus of graffiti art found on Los Angeles’ streets was an inspiration for him. He then went on to say that the tones of the paint he used had also been inspired by the metropolitan city, the yellows and oranges being reminiscent of the sunsets he often witnesses when in LA. His technique for deriving inspiration is experience and is a tool he has used in the past; he believes that this technique is what inspired his style and ideology that states that art is at its best when you paint things that you have lived through and have genuinely gotten inspired by.
I felt like I really learned something from Josh during this trip to the galleries; I was really touched by how much effort he put into the exhibition as a whole. The entire room was filled with color and was, what I would describe, a spectrum of inspiration. As soon as I walked into the room and got a quick glimpse of everything, I immediately said in my head “this is so LA” and it showed me that art and the way you present it does make an impact on your audience. Walking into his exhibition truly felt like an experience because, although they were not necessarily one of his art pieces, the minor details like the palm tree leaves and the way he arranged the canvas pieces so that the colors would appear as if they were in a gradient just like an actual sunset made it seem like I was actually in the heart of the urban city. If I had one thing to say to Josh, it would definitely be “good job” because not only did he put a challenge on himself, he proved that not only he was up for the challenge, but went above and beyond with this exhibition.