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 ?
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…