Leaning on your community to create: Natascha Vazquez speaks on her first time National Exhibition, by Kevanté Cash- NAGB Correspondent by Natascha Vazquez

Layout of Vazquez’ work in the NE9, courtesy of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

Layout of Vazquez’ work in the NE9, courtesy of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

When the call for “The Fruit and The Seed” exhibition went out last year, the three main questions that stood out to artist Natascha Vazquez were:

How are you diversifying your experiences and thoughts through art?

How are you encouraging your colleagues and peers in this creative ecology?

How are you working with The Bahamas’ vulnerable geography to advocate for the environment?

 From these birthed a vision to submit a proposal for works that would take her far away from her comfort zone of abstract paintings, and delving into another art form that honestly answers the question of diversifying one’s artistic experience.

“My paintings often allude to botanicals and organic shapes that kind of are inspired by something I would see in bushes or forests, but more so here in The Bahamas that I might see in a Bahamian bush. So, I was already kind of interested in that idea, but then I thought about the questions posed by Holly Bynoe, the chief curator for this exhibition, along with the theme, and I remember specifically reading a question that talked about the community and how one’s practice should affect the art community at large. Moreover, I thought, instead of retreating into my studio and creating paintings in isolation, why not incorporate that idea of community into this work and see how I can create a piece for this exhibition that’s more about the community as opposed to me, as the artist?”

Vazquez’s role as creative programme coordinator and curator at Baha Mar’s The Current Art Studio and Centre has lead her to the responsibility of not only putting out a call for artists to participate in a residency hosted by The Current, but also to look over artists’ proposals and approve of residencies held within the space. A lot of this work has created opportunities for her to interact with other artists within different practices, whose work have caused a shift in gaze on how she views art and creates it.

Read full article here

Vulnerable ecologies: This Woman's Work by Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett by Natascha Vazquez

Feminist ecology and ecocriticism have usually pushed for embracing the environment and awareness of the same in our life ways.  The intersection of art, ecology and a female’s perspective is often fertile space for serious discussions and new understandings of society, and its socioeconomic and sociopolitical challenges. 

The environment and ecology are under serious threat as we can see from Naomi Klein’s This changes everything: Capitalism vs the Climate (2014) along with the U.S. government’s recent report on the dangers of climate change as well as the United Nations’ Report on Climate change.  Capitalism, usually seen as the driver of economies and the joy of consumption, encourage a particular disregard for conservation and natural balance in favour of expansive and unlimited profits. 

Meanwhile, artists, nature lovers and regular citizens face the threat of extinction through rising sea levels and increased storm frequency and ferocity due in large part to human consumption of fossil fuels and living outside of harmony.  One of the links that we as island dwellers refuse to make is the link between  the patriarchy and masculinist discourse that deny the existence of climate change and sea level rise. They reflect a deeply colonial mindset that negates the outward reality.  They also offer the limitless life of market growth and profit.  However, all things are limited, there is no unending elasticity to profits. 

The Small Axe Project has recently focused a spotlight on climate change/environment in the Caribbean with an evening at NYU “Eye of the Storm: A Conversation on Capitalism, Colonialism, and Climate Change in the Caribbean” and were grappling with, “the ways in which neoliberal capitalism, colonialism, and climate change have come together in the Caribbean to reanimate and strengthen economic and racial hierarchies that have long marked the region and its place in the world”.[1]

These are points underscored by the works of Jo Morasco and Natascha Vazquez, who articulate through various artistic forms, the threat of capitalism on our ecologies/environment and lives. Yet many remain silent through consumption and state apparatus. 

Morasco asks us to: “Speak out! Speak up! Be heard!  Pick up! Clean up! Participate! Build responsibly and dispose respectfully”, while Vasquez notes:

“I have been collecting mangrove plants and roots that have been uprooted and destroyed to make way for new developments in New Providence. Upon witnessing these graveyards I develop a deep sadness, one that has inspired me to re-contextualize the way I see these plants dying. “

Works from the “Blue Carbon” series, (2018). Natascha Vasquez. Cyanotype on paper. 29 1/2" x 41 1/2". Work courtesy of the artist. Image courtesy of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.

Works from the “Blue Carbon” series, (2018). Natascha Vasquez. Cyanotype on paper. 29 1/2" x 41 1/2". Work courtesy of the artist. Image courtesy of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.

This is a part of the artist’s recognition of the fragility of ecology in the face of capitalist expansionism. As Klein notes, capitalism versus the environment is a dystopic space to inhabit.  As low-lying SIDS, Bahamian political agenda has maintained a non-proactive position on improving the environment to better support us.  The artists’ critique of this inertia is strong and beautifully crafted so that our risks and losses are clear.  At the same time, nothing national is being done to overtake the capitalist discourse.  

The Ninth National Exhibition NE9, gives space to those who manifest about the country’s vulnerable geography by showing the realities of climate change, unsustainable development practices and their fall out.  Vazquez works with mangroves, as she says, a vulnerable commodity as new developments take over and root out or deracinate evidence of mangroves in efforts to expand profit.  Morasco equally understands through her textile work Mal de Mar (2017) that Bahamian ecology suffers through poor and masculinist development deals that propose to surrender environment for profit.  Island sales along with continued use of known pollutant, exhaustible fossil fuels leave our low-lying, small-island, developing state under threat.  Morasco’s work explores this environmental degradation through the beguiling calm of tapestry, the everyday beauty of living art to bring to the fore the choices we take when we opt to bias our focus exclusively towards industrialisation and it contamination, which is easily attenuated based on simple more positive choices.  Her description is interestingly provocative.

See full article here

pARTicipate! NEW EXHIBITION - The D'Aguilar Art Foundation by Natascha Vazquez

open from 17th September - 22nd November 2018 

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Studio shot courtesy of Natascha Vazquez

Studio shot courtesy of Natascha Vazquez


The D’Aguilar Art Foundation is pleased to announce our upcoming exhibition, pARTicipate!, a show that aims to highlight the playfulness and accessibility of art. The exhibition intends to be a medium by which children (and fun adults) can learn to appreciate performative artworks of all kinds: from singing sculptures to painting you can walk into, pARTicipate! encourages its viewers to play with the artwork shown in the gallery.

The show features five prominent Bahamian artists: June Collie, John Cox, Kendra Frorup, Natascha Vazquez and Margot Bethel. Each artist created a piece of interactive artwork surrounding themes of play, folklore, and storytelling.

Cox’s wearable sculpture BlessedRedeemer is a homage to his mother, who would use this phrase as a form of sigh. It perches on your shoulders in the same way a Junkanoo costume would, transforming the wearer into a superhero (like his mother).

Kendra Frorup’s assemblages of beading, straw work and prints responds to your movement with sound and light. She draws from a multi-media practice that explores the iconography of Caribbean Life.

Dollhouse expands June Collie’s well-known murals in an installation that is explores the internal architecture of her paintings. The piece encourages the viewer to interact with the home she has created.

Vazquez’s six paintings all explore the story of the Lusca, a monster resembling an octopus that resides in blue holes around the Bahamas, in bold, colorful ways.

Bethel’s installation is inspired by folk storytelling through music. Her instruments create sounds with indigenous seeds in recycled containers explores the connection between music and nature.

 

VOLTA NY 2018 Debut - Natascha Vazquez and John Cox by Natascha Vazquez

THE CURRENT AT BAHA MAR, NASSAU

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

John Cox (b. The Bahamas, 1973) is a mixed-media artist whose paintings and sculptures use familiar objects to reference distant places and ideas. They suggest a sense of consideration for thought and reflection, often times involving people and places from his memories, experiences and surroundings.

This recent body of work, A Long Walk Home, creates an intersection where past explorations merge into new conversations. The parallels of early Japanese Geisha culture and the complexity of the Caribbean hospitality industry continue to drive his narrative. Cox deliberately constructed elements of the work precariously, suggesting a kind of parallel to the dynamics connected to the convolution of Caribbean identity. 

Cox has an MA in Art’s Education and a BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the Globe, including in France, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, the United States and the Caribbean. His work can be found in the collections at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, The D’Aguilar Art Foundation, the Lynden Pindling International Airport and the Dawn Davies Collection.

Cox is presently the Art Director at The Current Art Studio and Gallery at Baha Mar in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Natascha Vazquez (b. Spain, 1990) is an abstract painter whose work focuses on energetic interactions between biomorphic forms. She highlights these relationships in a sculptural way, creating a sense of 3-dimensionality through layered surfaces with both acrylic and vinyl paint.

There is a high-energy interplay of forms that allude to a kind of movement, contradictory to painting that is completely flat. The viewer is left contemplating the construction of the work, questioning where it might have started and ended, and its relationship with our surroundings. Vazquez draws inspiration from biology — forms in her work often imitate our own bodies and the organic world in which we live.

Vazquez has an MFA in Painting from The Savannah College of Art and Design and a BFA in Painting from Rollins College, Florida. She has exhibited her work in both solo and group exhibitions in galleries in The Bahamas, France and The United States. Her work is a part of various collections, including The Savannah College of Art and Design Permanent Collection, The Dawn Davies Collection and The D’Aguilar Art Foundation.

Vazquez is presently the Curator at The Current Art Studio and Gallery at Baha Mar in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Cacique International - Artist in the Spotlight: Natascha Vazquez by Natascha Vazquez

Welcome back to Cacique’s Artist In The Spotlight series - a journey into a thriving Bahamian art scene and a look at some of our most exciting artists, pushing boundaries on island and around the world. Natascha Vazquez, an artist surrounded by tradition but never bound by it, took her art on an extravagantly abstract path. She invites us to stroll around “Finca Nati”- her family farm- to understand how her native Bahamian surroundings have unconsciously carved her artistic identity.

Natascha’s work is revealing of the visual narrative that exists within us all, carved by the colors and shapes that we see everyday. As an abstract painter, however, Natascha paves the way forward into a brave new world. Her fearless, sweeping brush strokes may elude to lush fronds, but then the magic happens. The piece quickly morphs into something else, a subjective interpretation that is often wildly at odds with the original subject, that poses questions rather than giving answers. Come stroll with us to find out more…

CACIQUE. WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF YOUR INSPIRATION ?

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Natascha. Inspiration is something that is built up over time – it isn’t (for me at least) necessarily a specific thing that I see or hear or smell that then motivates me to paint. It is years and years of being surrounded by natural spaces, warm weather and vibrant land and seascapes. I’m fascinated by nature because I’ve been exposed to it so much – I love the bulbous shapes of leaves and roots and fruit that one might find in the Bahamian bush – I love the warm vibrant colors that make up this tropical landscape – I constantly refer back to that because it has been and continues to surround me. 

C. WHERE DO YOU WORK FROM ? 

N. I work from my studio that is located on Finca Nati farm, a 10-acre plot of bush and animals. My family acquired it 20 years ago, initially as a horse farm, and throughout the years have expanded it. Today it is a sanctuary for rescued animals. We have horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, birds and others, as well as wildlife such as Bahamian birds and insects.

C. WHAT IS YOUR ARTISTIC METHOD

N.  I’m interested in abstraction – in non-objective forms that interlay, intertwine and weave together, much like our landscape does. I want my paintings to refer to something familiar but only give the viewer minimal information: color and shape. I’m super interested in the spontaneity of abstract expressionism and the simplicity and power of color field painting. I try to think about both types of painting in my work.

C. WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON ?

N. I’m just working on painting – this is a good space to be in for me at the moment. I spent the past two years making work for shows and fairs and it started feeling a little mechanical. I’m enjoying the calmness of making work for no particular reason – it lifts a pressure off and allows me to make mistakes, get outside of my comfort zone and try new things.

C.WHAT DO YOU ATTEMPT TO TACKLE WITH YOUR ART ?

N.  I’m interested in creating moments that reveal a kind of visual play with my paintings – I want the viewer to sit with the work and deconstruct it, find pockets in it that feel dynamic and energetic, as if the painting is not stagnant or flat. I want the paintings to feel lush and spherical and three-dimensional, as if you can step inside them and discover space. They are meant to reveal a kind of love I have for this tropical landscape, as well as a celebration for abstract painting.

C. WHAT HAS BEEN A SEMINAL EXPERIENCE THAT YOU'VE HAD ?

N. Studying for my MFA degree has been integral to my career – it was a time in my life completely dedicated to my artistic practice. It felt like a selfish time and it was. Every day was dedicated to speaking about my art, thinking about my art, making my art, throwing away my art, crying about my art, laughing about my art – three years of complete dedication to this practice. It took me to places I never even knew existed. It exposed me to a whole new way of understanding my own practice and how it relates to the global art community, and to the very long and rich history of painting.

C. WHERE DO YOU FEEL ART IS GOING, PARTICULARLY HERE IN THE BAHAMAS ?  

N. I feel that more and more people are becoming interested in art – not only those who are artists or who are fascinated by the creative process, but those that might be interested in the business of art, in the investment - the “cultural currency”, as put by John Cox. I think all reasons are valid, as long as people continue to have an eye for art, it will be here to stay. I’m hopeful that with the strong (and growing) art department at the University of the Bahamas, more great Bahamian artists will flourish – this will give us the opportunity to continue making and thinking and asking critical questions.

C. WHAT IS THE LAST PIECE OF ARTWORK YOU PURCHASED ?

N.  My last purchase was a Jason Bennett painted piece on paper – it’s this beautiful mash-up of dripped paint, delicate line drawings and smudges of thick, black gesso that cover most of it. I find his work incredibly confident – it’s fearless and it reminds me of the importance of letting go – of “killing your darlings” – never holding too tightly onto the things that you think are stellar; it just ends up boxing you in. I appreciate Jason’s work so much and am honored to have it in my teeny Bahamian art collection!

C. WHICH WORK OF ART DO YOU WISH YOU OWNED ?

N. I don’t consider myself a ‘tingsy’ person but when it comes to art, I wish I owned everything that is 1. Bahamian, 2. Abstract and 3. Intentional. But if I were to choose one for this moment in time it would be a Tessa Whitehead painting – I’m putting that on next years Christmas list to Santa…

Blank Canvas by Natascha Vazquez

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This week on Blank Canvas we return to looking at the Ninth National Exhibition “NE9: The Fruit & The Seed,” with two artists, Anina Major and Natascha Vazquez, both of whose works speak to our ties to the land and how important it is to care and cherish the environment.

Major is a transplanted Bahamian, currently living and working in the US, and her works alludes to the experience of transplantation —literally and metaphorically—through her wonderful sculptural piece, which incorporates a live "dilly" (sapodilla) seedling. The piece is a collaborative work with her writer sister, A.L. Major, but also her extended family (her mother’s voice is captured in the sound element and her father sourced the plant material), and speaks to the experience of leaving home, returning and nurturing ourselves and our relationships.

Vazquez is a Bahamian who has returned home, having studied at SCAD, and her piece also speaks to the land and our care for it and for ourselves. On a walk she came across uprooted mangroves—cleared for a development—that had been cast aside to die and she decided she had to memorialize them in beautiful cyanotypes. The artist explains this process and how thinking about “The Fruit and the Seed” led her to experiment more in her own practice.

Tune in and join the conversation! The Blank Canvas airs every Wednesday at 6:30 on 96.9 FM.

A Wry and Writing Mass: New Works by Natascha Vazquez by Natalie Willis by Natascha Vazquez

The onslaught of colour and organic masses of shape in Natascha Vazquez’ current body of work hides just that: a particular kind of body and experience. Her thesis exhibition “In A Space That Glows” is a distorted, shifting, chaotic visceral mass of body parts. When you look closely enough: a rib cage here and there, trickles and splashes of fluid, the flare of a hip bone, the fleshy, squashy intestinal quality to some of the shapes bombard you. Vazquez takes us to the guts of painting in her journey during her Masters programme at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). While she may be dealing with the ‘rebel-turned-canon’ that is abstraction in regards to how this particular genre of painting rejects our need for visual meaning-making, she gives us these beautiful and grotesque colours and shapes that are as familiar as they are abstract.

“Art is a matter strictly of experience, not of principles, and what counts first and last in art is quality; all other things are secondary.” - Clement Greenberg (“Late Writings”, 2003)

Greenberg (1909-1994) has been lauded as the most important and influential art critic of the 20th century, particularly in relation to his influence on American Modernism. He was very much concerned with the formal qualities of painting, believing that the work should contain within itself all that is necessary to understanding it, and - as we can see from his words - he valued quality above all. His work continues to influence many artists today, and in conversation with Vazquez it isn’t long before his name crops up. It is apparent in the sleek and smooth flatness of the larger, vinyl-painted shapes in the works, with their crisp and scalpel-sharp edges that she too believes in the quality of having things executed impeccably in work despite the thin, runny and free-flowing underpainting.

A formalist at heart perhaps, it is clear in the meticulous and regimented layering and process, and the way she situates herself and speaks to the history of the medium and genre, that this painting practice is more at home in research-based work. A bit of getting to the heart of what makes painting ‘work’, a question we’ve not quite got to the bottom of yet, despite the millennia of painting history we have to draw on and the years of study dedicated to it. It is a 40,000 year old history and we feel and see the weight of it every day in the art world.

The series of works on canvas that comprise the collection exemplify Vazquez’ serious study and love of the medium and history and process of painting. By mixing batches of colour, numbering them, and then painting with them in ascending and then descending order, she is able to generate a real depth to the work that is quite interesting for abstraction. Often thought of as a flat surface with various focal points, it feels like she is trying to stun you with colour and then draw you in slowly. The structured patterning paired with the looser underpainting all help to give the competing points of interest that are thought of as typical for the genre, but the depth created gives each of them a sort of tunnel to peer through that draws us into these caverns. She plays with the history, with the process, in a very knowing and wry kind of way that shows both her love of formal qualities and her desire to push what paintings means - for her and for this space. With Netherlandish artist Jan Van Eyck’s ‘Arnolfini Portrait’ (1434) as an unlikely influence for someone so rooted in modern and contemporary abstraction, she takes this early Renaissance work and its method of using perspective to draw the viewer deep into the work, and crafts this sucking and pulling in to function for her in her abstract practice.

Though Greenberg and Vazquez both value formalist interpretations of work, the beauty of artwork today lies in the way that work is not autonomous and its meaning does not exist purely within the work itself. French semiotician Julia Kristeva offered us the possibility of this freedom through her groundbreaking work on literary theory and the idea of ‘intertextuality’. Intertextuality predicates on this idea that everything in a text (or work) is part of an intertext of the texts before it, the author’s (artist’s) life, all the influences within the field and the maker and the reader (viewer) of the piece itself. This is much more true to our experience of art today, and speaks to how the artist’s life context and experiences and cultural influences shape the work itself. Whereas formalism implies an idea of objectivity in artwork, intertextuality is deeply rooted in acknowledging the specificity of our individual subjectivities and how they inform the meaning produced in the work - at these intersections of aesthetics, culture, and experience.

This genre, that began in its rejection of meaning and formalism, and its development help us to see how the application of these ideas over the years have informed such an interesting practice not just for Vazquez, but for Bahamian art as we make sense of the emergence of abstraction in our context. One of our ‘founding fathers’ of abstraction in The Bahamas, Kendal Hanna, has dedicated his life’s work to painting practice, and Vazquez comes into the fold she stands on those shoulders and builds. In a region that is still sifting through the muck and mess of the weight of Western art history in relation to Caribbean history itself, Caribbean practices are not quite about translating that visual language at times so much as building out our own.

Vazquez’s works are a play on the intertext of her life - growing up here in The Bahamas to a Caribbean father and European mother and studying abroad for the past four years, it all shows in the work. From her tongue-in-cheek use of the hyper-tropicalised colours so ‘trendy’ in much of Western art practice, Vazquez dissects and reassembles in Frankenstein-fashion with the history of painting to delightful and discombobulating effect. And she does so because she can. Given her history as both a Caribbean and European subject, she can shift and move where she wishes, choosing whether to play to that overbearing weight of Western art history or the daunting, exciting, and terrifying openness of possibility in our young (by comparison) Bahamian and Caribbean art history. That freedom and dedication to play and experimentation shines through. “In A Space That Glows” is testament not just to the particularities of light and colour in this space, but to the resonating light of potential that young creatives in the region have and take unabashed ownership of. The exhibition will be on view at The Island House on Friday, December 1st from 6:00pm to 9:00pm and will run for one night only.

 

Blank Canvas by Natascha Vazquez

On tonight's "Blank Canvas," Amanda welcomes back the original host, John Cox (Creative Art Director at Baha Mar) and his colleague at The Current, Natascha Vasquez (Creative Arts Programme Manager) to speak about the arts programme being developed at the new resort on Cable Beach.  With studio spaces, a very visible commercial art gallery, educational assistance, and commercial and branding opportunities, The Current is bringing another professional art team onstream for the benefit of local artists.  The team joins us to share their vision for Baha Mar's The Current, to talk about the bimonthly, open forum artist critiques and to speak about the public Meet'n'Greet taking place this Friday from 6-8 p.m.  Blank Canvas airs every Wednesday on Guardian Talk Radio, 96.9FM

On tonight's "Blank Canvas," Amanda welcomes back the original host, John Cox (Creative Art Director at Baha Mar) and his colleague at The Current, Natascha Vasquez (Creative Arts Programme Manager) to speak about the arts programme being developed at the new resort on Cable Beach.

With studio spaces, a very visible commercial art gallery, educational assistance, and commercial and branding opportunities, The Current is bringing another professional art team onstream for the benefit of local artists.

The team joins us to share their vision for Baha Mar's The Current, to talk about the bimonthly, open forum artist critiques and to speak about the public Meet'n'Greet taking place this Friday from 6-8 p.m.

Blank Canvas airs every Wednesday on Guardian Talk Radio, 96.9FM

Blank Canvas by Natascha Vazquez

It’s an all-female cast in the “Blank Canvas” studio this week. Joining your regular host, NAGB Director Amanda Coulson, are Lauren Holowesko, Director of The Island House boutique hotel on the West End of New Providence (left), and Natascha Vasquez (right), the Creative Arts Programming Manager at The Current, studio and gallery at Bahamar. Natascha is also a painter who is having her first solo show at home in The Bahamas at The Island House this Friday, December 1st.  Lauren comes from a family that has had an impact on the arts in The Bahamas for several decades—her aunt Diane Holowesko envisioned the BNT’s Wine and Art event—and she continues a family tradition of arts support in her vision for The Island House, which aims to be a cultural experience as much as a restful haven for holiday makers and locals alike. Lauren speaks to the wide variety of programming scheduled at the Island House, including a film series—curated by Bahamian filmmaker Kareem Mortimer—regular music nights and, of course, the visual arts.  Natascha is one of the lucky artists to be showcased in a temporary exhibition at The Island House and she shares her experience of coming home to be a practicing artist and also her work at The Current. Both guests speak to their desire to expand the notion of what is “Bahamian” through their unique lens.  Don’t miss Natascha’s show at The Island House this Friday December 1st at 6 p.m. The “Blank Canvas," airs every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m, on Guardian talk radio 96.9 FM.

It’s an all-female cast in the “Blank Canvas” studio this week. Joining your regular host, NAGB Director Amanda Coulson, are Lauren Holowesko, Director of The Island House boutique hotel on the West End of New Providence (left), and Natascha Vasquez (right), the Creative Arts Programming Manager at The Current, studio and gallery at Bahamar. Natascha is also a painter who is having her first solo show at home in The Bahamas at The Island House this Friday, December 1st.

Lauren comes from a family that has had an impact on the arts in The Bahamas for several decades—her aunt Diane Holowesko envisioned the BNT’s Wine and Art event—and she continues a family tradition of arts support in her vision for The Island House, which aims to be a cultural experience as much as a restful haven for holiday makers and locals alike. Lauren speaks to the wide variety of programming scheduled at the Island House, including a film series—curated by Bahamian filmmaker Kareem Mortimer—regular music nights and, of course, the visual arts.

Natascha is one of the lucky artists to be showcased in a temporary exhibition at The Island House and she shares her experience of coming home to be a practicing artist and also her work at The Current. Both guests speak to their desire to expand the notion of what is “Bahamian” through their unique lens.

Don’t miss Natascha’s show at The Island House this Friday December 1st at 6 p.m. The “Blank Canvas," airs every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m, on Guardian talk radio 96.9 FM.

In A Space That Glows by Natascha Vazquez

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This body of work for my thesis study emerged from a desire to understand the language of painting – I was always interested in the construction of painting – formalism – and it’s evolution over time. This interest came after two years of making work in graduate school without much direction, I was a scientist in a lab, mixing and pouring and scraping and slashing paint, but truthfully didn’t quite understand why. I knew about the Masters before me, all of the different art genres and pivotal artists but when it came to my own work, I was lost – I didn’t quite know where I fit in the dialogue. Graduate School is a place where one is forced to reflect and begin contextualizing their own practice – the only place I knew where to start was at the very beginning.

I started research for this body of work looking 40,000 years ago at Cave Painting in Europe. Besides getting into reason and narrative and content, I simply looked at the way in which painting was made. Cave Men portrayed their surroundings, people, animals, plants, upon cave walls – there are many theories as to why they did but the work itself is the only concrete thing we have. I noticed that techniques for achieving the illusion of space were already evident – objects in the foreground were larger than those in the background, tricking the eye into believing that this was a representation of the three-dimensional world around us. Later on during the Renaissance, it seemed that artists had an almost obsession with realistically rendering nature and people, moments in time that could not be preserved otherwise. Leonardo da Vinci used math to attempt rendering the perfect human form, Jan van Eyck had very specific glazing techniques to achieve a sense of atmosphere and depth within his compositions.  I started noticing a trend in painting – the desire artists had for capturing realistic time so that beyond a lifetime, someone, someplace or something could be honored.

With the invention of the camera, artmaking changed. Painting became more about the artist, about the interaction between creator and creation, about material, about line, shape, form, texture, color – mimesis was not dead but was not as prevalent. Jackson Pollock revolutionized the way we defined a landscape – Mark Rothko showed us the power of pure color. I wanted my work to speak to both things, to speak to a heavy consideration for illusionary space, as well as the vibrancy and dynamism of Abstract Expressionism and Color-Field Painting. So for that, my work relies heavily on paint application, on the way in which I create non-objective forms that interact with one another to create the illusion of space. I want the work to be an experience for the viewer – for the viewer to contemplate its construction, to visually play within each pour and color and form, and to feel as if space fills each composition. Nodding to the history and evolution of the construction of painting has helped me in just beginning to understand the way in which I work and why it continues to be an important part of the painting conversation.

In A Space That Glows opens on December 1st 2017, from 6pm-9pm at The Island House, Nassau, Bahamas.

The Nassau Guardian by Natascha Vazquez

Lynn Parotti's The Blastocyst's Ball: A Journey Through the Drug Induced Stages of IVF
by Natascha Vazquez

 

Installation shot of Lynn Parotti's  The Blastocyct's Ball  (2008) triptych, part of the national collection at The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

Installation shot of Lynn Parotti's The Blastocyct's Ball (2008) triptych, part of the national collection at The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

"Besides formal interpretations of the piece, the title provided by Parotti is a direct insight into the content of the works. They abstractly portray the process of assisted reproduction, or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), in which several eggs are removed from the ovaries, externally fertilised and then—as embryos—are returned into the uterus in the hope that they implant and become a pregnancy.

Woman having IVF are given special reproductive hormones to encourage several eggs to develop in the ovaries. Final maturation of the egg itself is induced by the administration of a further hormone. 36 hours later, the fluid containing the eggs is drawn from the ovary with a needle, this is usually performed under light sedation with a doctor using ultrasound to check proceedings. The eggs collected from the ovary are then mixed with a sample of the male partner sperm, which has already been washed and concentrated.

The eggs and sperm are left in an incubator set at 37 degrees for 24 hours so that fertilisation can take place. During this time, only one of the many sperm cells will penetrate the outer layer of the egg and achieve fertilisation. Following fertilisation, the cells divide and multiply and form an embryo. After 2 or 3 days, a healthy embryo will comprise around eight cells. It is then transferred to the uterus using a thin, flexible tube where it is left to implant and form a pregnancy.

Although IVF is a helpful tool for infertile couples, there is some controversy with the misuse of this technology. Aldous Huxley suggested that “test tube baby” technology wasn’t actually about infertility, it was about eugenics. Eugenics is a set of beliefs that aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population. IVF was about making super-babies: better babies, stronger babies, smarter babies, with an aim to make the perfect baby. Rather than it being of interest between infertile couples, it would be of interest to government and authoritarian states. Why would we allow any ordinary people to fall in love and have babies? There is less control that way. Could we control the process in a test tube and select specific traits in children that would be useful for society? The concern of this technology is in its misuse. Through IVF, are we going to breed ourselves to improve ourselves?"

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The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas by Natascha Vazquez

Michael Edward's Untitled II
by Natascha Vazquez

 

“Untitled II” (2000), Michael Edwards, monoprint on museum board, 85” x 32”. Part of the National Collection, acquired from the Inaugural National Exhibition. Image courtesy of the NAGB.  The interpretation of abstract art entails an inventiveness that allows you to discover for yourself the meaning behind the work. It’s an organic process, it has no equation or set of rules – the art presents itself and you are left with little information to process it. For many, this is unsettling. As humans, we yearn for understanding – we desire clear, detailed instruction. Abstract art provides none of that.  Revolutionary colour field painter Mark Rothko says, “Art that truly engages us is felt even when you have turned your back on it.” There’s something really special about that – about feeling the sensation of a work beyond its physicality. It’s when you can feel the strength of the painting from across the room. You can stand in the space the artist once occupied and imagine him or her in that same spot, debating over the next smear of black or red pour or blue dot. Similarly, Jerry Saltz says, “Abstraction disenchants, re-enchants, detoxifies, destabilises, resists closure, slows perception, and increases our grasp of the world.”  Bahamian artist and educator Michael Edwards presents us with “Untitled II,” a monotype that employs the techniques of painting, silk screening and embossing to create a non-objective mixture of intentionally placed colour, line, texture, and pattern. Edwards brilliantly captivates the language of painting in this work, exploring the way in which a mark can exist and how it changes when paired with colours or textures or gradients. How does a translucent red transform when placed next to a deep black or on top of a blue and yellow pattern? Can a sense of unity still be achieved within the diversity of this work through a commonly-shared direction? Although there is great diversity within the work, it follows a vertical orientation, flowing from top to bottom.  The eye begins at the top of this composition, circulating through a thin layer of red that delicately lies above a series of rapid patterns. The first set of patterns appear to be deep blues screened over a solid yellow. Edwards’ handwork here is energetic – the work itself becomes evidence of his interaction with the material. An organically-printed rope pattern delicately sits on top, creating a type of grid that provides some form of structure. The thin red pour sits in the grid with a sense of urgency that captures you once again and draws you down towards the centre of the work. One might expect that the red would delicately turn into the black, seamlessly transitioning from one colour to the next, but it doesn't happen that way. The clumsy interruption of a paper seam catches the eye and abruptly stops you. Here, a clear insight into the materiality of the work adds an intense layer of contrast to what once appeared to be so delicate.  Edwards has intentionally emphasised his material, providing insight for the viewer in understanding the process of this craft. There is a slight shift in the way the form continues down; it is similarly shaped but offset ever so slightly. This shift stimulates the eye in a way that brings the work great unpredictable complexity – and we are suddenly left with what appears to be an infinite black. It is rough with drips and smears and emphasises the characteristics of ink and its relationship with gravity. Edwards has effectively captured a sense of space through his use of colour – the black feeling as if it is occupying the foreground, up close and personal, while the grey tones recede into the distance.  One may begin relating this to something within one’s physical reality – a sense of 3-dimensionality, if you will. But when we step out of the print again, we realise it is merely colour and shape and does not provide any detail to help us in the understanding of what it may be. And that is all that it is. Without any answers, the eye is left to circulate the work again, hungry for clarity. When yet more questions arise, the work has done its job. I remember turning my back to it and still feeling its presence, trying to continue deconstructing it, and then finally accepting its ambiguity.  According to art theorist Stephen Knudsen, the intensity of a painting lies in its ability to exert great energy, strength, depth and emotional force. The complexity of a painting, similarly, involves building variety within and among formal elements of a work: line, shape, value, hue, saturation, translucency, opacity, textures. And then, he also rightfully states that unity is the combining of elements within the painting into an effective whole. In this work, Edwards captures intensity within the layering of diverse mark-making, pattern and form. He presents a close relationship between opaque colours hiding beneath translucent pours, weaved with organic lines. He dictates the speed and direction of our eye, moving from north to south slowly, stopping, and then continuing rapidly until our vision runs off the surface and we are forced to start again.  The understanding of this work lies in the acceptance of not knowing entirely, in the appreciation and celebration of craftsmanship, and in the power of the creative sensation. Edwards has so masterfully achieved a sense of intensity within this work that we cannot help but revisit it, delightfully finding new fragments with each return.   Read full article here

“Untitled II” (2000), Michael Edwards, monoprint on museum board, 85” x 32”. Part of the National Collection, acquired from the Inaugural National Exhibition. Image courtesy of the NAGB.

The interpretation of abstract art entails an inventiveness that allows you to discover for yourself the meaning behind the work. It’s an organic process, it has no equation or set of rules – the art presents itself and you are left with little information to process it. For many, this is unsettling. As humans, we yearn for understanding – we desire clear, detailed instruction. Abstract art provides none of that.

Revolutionary colour field painter Mark Rothko says, “Art that truly engages us is felt even when you have turned your back on it.” There’s something really special about that – about feeling the sensation of a work beyond its physicality. It’s when you can feel the strength of the painting from across the room. You can stand in the space the artist once occupied and imagine him or her in that same spot, debating over the next smear of black or red pour or blue dot. Similarly, Jerry Saltz says, “Abstraction disenchants, re-enchants, detoxifies, destabilises, resists closure, slows perception, and increases our grasp of the world.”

Bahamian artist and educator Michael Edwards presents us with “Untitled II,” a monotype that employs the techniques of painting, silk screening and embossing to create a non-objective mixture of intentionally placed colour, line, texture, and pattern. Edwards brilliantly captivates the language of painting in this work, exploring the way in which a mark can exist and how it changes when paired with colours or textures or gradients. How does a translucent red transform when placed next to a deep black or on top of a blue and yellow pattern? Can a sense of unity still be achieved within the diversity of this work through a commonly-shared direction? Although there is great diversity within the work, it follows a vertical orientation, flowing from top to bottom.

The eye begins at the top of this composition, circulating through a thin layer of red that delicately lies above a series of rapid patterns. The first set of patterns appear to be deep blues screened over a solid yellow. Edwards’ handwork here is energetic – the work itself becomes evidence of his interaction with the material. An organically-printed rope pattern delicately sits on top, creating a type of grid that provides some form of structure. The thin red pour sits in the grid with a sense of urgency that captures you once again and draws you down towards the centre of the work. One might expect that the red would delicately turn into the black, seamlessly transitioning from one colour to the next, but it doesn't happen that way. The clumsy interruption of a paper seam catches the eye and abruptly stops you. Here, a clear insight into the materiality of the work adds an intense layer of contrast to what once appeared to be so delicate.

Edwards has intentionally emphasised his material, providing insight for the viewer in understanding the process of this craft. There is a slight shift in the way the form continues down; it is similarly shaped but offset ever so slightly. This shift stimulates the eye in a way that brings the work great unpredictable complexity – and we are suddenly left with what appears to be an infinite black. It is rough with drips and smears and emphasises the characteristics of ink and its relationship with gravity. Edwards has effectively captured a sense of space through his use of colour – the black feeling as if it is occupying the foreground, up close and personal, while the grey tones recede into the distance.

One may begin relating this to something within one’s physical reality – a sense of 3-dimensionality, if you will. But when we step out of the print again, we realise it is merely colour and shape and does not provide any detail to help us in the understanding of what it may be. And that is all that it is. Without any answers, the eye is left to circulate the work again, hungry for clarity. When yet more questions arise, the work has done its job. I remember turning my back to it and still feeling its presence, trying to continue deconstructing it, and then finally accepting its ambiguity.

According to art theorist Stephen Knudsen, the intensity of a painting lies in its ability to exert great energy, strength, depth and emotional force. The complexity of a painting, similarly, involves building variety within and among formal elements of a work: line, shape, value, hue, saturation, translucency, opacity, textures. And then, he also rightfully states that unity is the combining of elements within the painting into an effective whole. In this work, Edwards captures intensity within the layering of diverse mark-making, pattern and form. He presents a close relationship between opaque colours hiding beneath translucent pours, weaved with organic lines. He dictates the speed and direction of our eye, moving from north to south slowly, stopping, and then continuing rapidly until our vision runs off the surface and we are forced to start again.

The understanding of this work lies in the acceptance of not knowing entirely, in the appreciation and celebration of craftsmanship, and in the power of the creative sensation. Edwards has so masterfully achieved a sense of intensity within this work that we cannot help but revisit it, delightfully finding new fragments with each return.

Read full article here

The Nassau Guardian - Arts & Culture by Natascha Vazquez

Blue Curry's Nassau From Above
by Natascha Vazquez

 

Blue Curry. "Nassau From Above", alternative photography, 24 x 30". Curtesy of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.

Blue Curry. "Nassau From Above", alternative photography, 24 x 30". Curtesy of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.

"Stylized and flat imagery of highlighted “Bahamian icons” permeate the work, including The Atlantis Hotel. It is awkwardly placed within the setting, as if cut out and stuck clumsily on the surface without consideration of unifying the composition. The distortion of this “cut-out” is suggestive of propaganda – a vehicle for spreading biased or misleading information, usually to promote a political cause or point of view. It’s almost as if the artist has found advertisements, cut around them to salvage the imagery, and pasted them inelegantly into this birds-eye-view of Nassau. It is suggestive of the artist intentionally covering segments of reality with icons that promote a paradise – something that we strive to present to visitors of this country.

The alteration of the Atlantis structure is also suggestive of a Roman Cathedral, an architectural icon that serves as a spiritual center– a place where God dwells. This poses a fascinating indication of Atlantis and its role in the Bahamas. Do we identify the tourism industry in The Bahamas in similar ways to the act of worship? If we place so much importance and dependence on foreign support, how can we define ourselves?

So, what is real Nassau? It may appear to have pure, white beaches and a see-through ocean – it may shine under a vibrant sun – it may present underwater dreamlands of a hidden Atlantis or a smooth sail by through the wind on a boat, but what about the close-up details? What about the people and the crime and the struggles and the pollution and the corruption? Things that cannot be seen from an ascending airplane but rather by a truly Bahamian individual, who lives, breaths and dies a citizen, who drives the streets and eats the food and knows the people – who can feel the chaos and who struggles when the country does. This work seems to be a friendly reminder of who we must prioritize and conserve – our culture over any - our beliefs and stories and art, and our people. Our visitors will inevitably flourish from a prideful nation, but only when we discover ourselves will we be able to share a deeply Bahamian culture."

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The Nassau Guardian - Arts & Culture by Natascha Vazquez

Deconstructing "The Arrival"
by Natascha Vazquez

Lavar Munroe. "Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea", 2011, digital rendering, 34 x 25" (5), 34 x 10" (1). Courtesy of the Dawn Davies Collection

"Munroe uses his own visual language to depict the brutality of Columbus’ arrival into the islands. He dismisses the glorification of Columbus, and shows the horrific exploitation of enslaved natives of The Bahamas as well as Africans imported to the newly discovered land. In this piece, Columbus is the embodiment of the Devil. The subjugated native figures represent overturned humanity. Munroe uses bizarre imagery to depict the violent and destructive nature of uninvited change. Munroe strives to make the viewer re-think the admiration of Christopher Columbus and promote people’s desire to ward off any future threats of genocide and or “discovery.”

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The Nassau Guardian - Arts & Culture by Natascha Vazquez

May's Artwork of the Month
by Natascha Vazquez

Antonius Roberts. "Procession of Females in White Uniforms", 1984, oil on canvas, 41 x 43". Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

Antonius Roberts. "Procession of Females in White Uniforms", 1984, oil on canvas, 41 x 43". Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

"This painting exceptionally captures a mundane march toward labour, erasing any individuality that inevitably compromises these women. It highlights societies expectations of women in the work force to be strong and loyal to their trade, to dress properly, to be clean and tidy, and above all, to continue without individuality. The job at task is at the Government’s priority and its execution rises above any woman’s desire for independence. It is my hope that the viewer of this work can understand the danger of this mentality, and strive to inspire young people to question and exercise their uniqueness."

Real full article here

The Nassau Guardian - Arts & Culture by Natascha Vazquez

Unpacking Memories of Womanhood
by Natascha Vazquez

Margot Bethel. "Portal: There's a WHole in the Bucket", 2016, installation, variable dimensions. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

Margot Bethel. "Portal: There's a WHole in the Bucket", 2016, installation, variable dimensions. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

Detail from "Portal: There's a WHole in the Bucket", 2016, installation, variable dimensions. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

Detail from "Portal: There's a WHole in the Bucket", 2016, installation, variable dimensions. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

“Everyday bucket go to well. One day the bottom fall out.” -Bahamian proverb

“For she who goes to the well; who carries; who labours; who bleeds; who sweats; who delivers; who bears all; who nurtures; who listens; who waits; who lays down her life in sacrifice; who is broken, silenced, violenced, erased and forgotten. When she no longer agrees to bondage. When she sees, herself reflected whole. When she removes her mask. When she unties the knot. When she possesses her body. When she speaks. When she is heard. When she re-members.”

"Bahamian artist, Margot Bethel, explores ideas of femininity and the roles of women from both past and present day. In Portal: There’s a WHole in the Bucket”, Bethel transforms a collection of mundane, everyday objects into a sculptural installation proposing the idea of the hole and the whole, simultaneously describing aspects of gender inequality, female stereotypes and objectivity."

Real full article here

 

The Nassau Guardian - Arts & Culture by Natascha Vazquez

Finding Self Through Abstraction
by Natascha Vazquez

Kendal Hanna. "Untitled (Rainbow Explosion)", 1993, 13 x 16", watercolor on paper. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

Kendal Hanna. "Untitled (Rainbow Explosion)", 1993, 13 x 16", watercolor on paper. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

"Influenced by Abstract Expressionism, Hanna’s work sits in dialogue with revolutionary artists like Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg and Willem de Kooning, to name a few. De Kooning often left his works with a sense of dynamic incompletion, as if the work was still in process. The paintings embodied the term ‘action painting’- proof of the high-energy physical work that went into its creation. Similarly, Hanna’s work exemplifies a process-oriented development rather than the finished traditional work of fine painting. Pollock known as “Jack the Dripper” engaged with his canvas in the non-traditional way of flinging paint as he stood over the massive canvas on the floor. He engaged in the paintings through physical movement, and each mark exemplified the high energy process of which he worked. Rauschenberg engaged in physical mark making, as well, and was quoted to saying that he wanted to work “in the gap between art and life”, comparable to Hanna’s struggle with schizophrenia and being an artist."

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The Nassau Guardian - Arts & Culture by Natascha Vazquez

Sculling Skulls
by Natascha Vazquez

John Beadle. "Row Yah Boat", 2016, mixed media, variable dimensions. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

John Beadle. "Row Yah Boat", 2016, mixed media, variable dimensions. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

"...The oar is traditionally used as a means for transportation through a technique known as sculling. Sculling is unique to The Bahamas and consists of the sculler standing at the back of the boat facing forward, with his right foot forward. The sculling notch is located on the port crown of the transom and balances in a notch sculpted into the back of the boat. In the left hand, the sculler grips the oar and pushes and pulls in a rhythmic motion. Through this effort, the boat is propelled through the water with great power and minimum effort. A theme of physical movement is evident in this work, directly alluding to a form of transportation that feels somewhat primitive, but also authentic to The Bahamas and its people. Many of Beadle’s works deal with the gloom of illegal migrants and the inevitable identity struggle that encompasses the life of an immigrant. He often questions what it means to be a Bahamian person. For that reason, the back and forth motion associated with the oar may be a symbol of the movement of people from one place to another, and the complexities that come with establishing stability in a new environment."

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