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.