JOSÉ LUIS VARGAS: MYTH-MAKING
Bill Brady Gallery (Miami) presents a solo exhibition of paintings by Puerto Rican artist José Luis Vargas.
After hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, the storm gave way for Vargas to take a sharper look at the mythical gaze, and he found himself giving images in his paintings an internal drama of revelation and humanity of their own. Having been a characteristic of what he does and the way he thinks, elements like fantasy, religion, science fiction and the supernatural are faithful companions in his narratives.
«The choice of the supernatural in my work is a result of two things – first, I grew up and live in a country that has created many myths and collective symbols, and I rescue some of them as they are part of a personal and collective memory. The second, it creates a platform for people to project their belief system,» says the artist.
In Myth-making, the need for a narrative is a natural gesture as images organize themselves into mythical and power structures. Whether they are absurd, humorous, dramatic, tragic or, mysterious, it results in a tendency that feels very much at ease finding an appropriate context to unfold these emotions.
The faces and figures in the work become surrogates of very deep thoughts related to a sharper gaze. The duality in the works were created by many years working with people from different backgrounds, and his studio practice interestingly submerged the people that inhabit the paintings. People on the edge of the sublime and the mythical without forgetting their human nature.
Some distinguishing features of Vargas’s artwork include humor and allusions to the supernatural. He frequently uses comic book inspired dialogue bubbles to convey light messages from the monsters that frequently grace his work. “In mythology, monsters rise when there’s a crisis,» Vargas stated in a 2015 interview.
José Luis Vargas was born in 1965 and is a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London; Pratt Institute New York, and The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.
Since 2000, he’s taken a serious interest in community radio, which lead him to Mexico City to study sound art. Besides teaching classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras, he also founded The Museum of Supernatural History, a multi-genre performance project that brings together artists of different disciplines.
Past exhibitions include Roberto Paradise, PR; Museo de Arte, Caguas, PR; Hidrante, PR: Tripoli Gallery, NY, Rachel Uffner Gallery, NY, and Embajada, PR. He lives and works in Carolina, Puerto Rico.