By: Matt Hardman, Intern with significant research by Nataliya Hines, Intern
Victor Vazquez is a photographer and multimedia artist, born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Vazquez earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico and completed his graduate studies in Education and Comparative Religion at New York University before pursuing his career as an artist. While studying in Barcelona, student strikes prevented Vazquez from completing his academic program, but allowed him the freedom to focus on his art. He traveled to China, India, and Japan to study art, literature, and the cultural history of the regions, and began taking photographs.
Vazquez’s work, both in form and concept, revolves around the human body. He utilizes the body as a vehicle to communicate both political issues and personal struggles throughout his work. Vazquez addresses the ways in which the state influences and validates social practices within a culture. He reflects on and contextualizes his cultural identity as a Puerto Rican in his art. In response to the AIDS crisis, the Humanities of Art produced Vazquez’s book “The Realm of Waiting”. The Puerto Rico Art Critic Association selected Vazquez’s work as art book of the year.
Fig. 1: Victor Vazquez, La Ave Maria (1/5) , 1996, Hand painted gelatin silver print with wax, 48" x 48".
La Ave Maria (see fig. 1) exemplifies Vazquez’s interest in communicating through the human form. He implements religious and ritualistic imagery, reflecting the conflicting cultures of Christianity and Santeria in Puerto Rico. The photograph depicts a nun in quiet devotion however she is nude and adorned in the body parts of chickens. The visceral imagery is in stark contrast with the more conservative Christian apparel. However both are religious objects and symbols of devotion, connecting the religious beliefs of Puerto Rico. The beauty of life, the human form, and modern culture is juxtaposed with death, wildlife, and the cultures of the past. The contrast is jarring yet soft, calling upon recognizable religious artifacts to guide the viewer towards an understanding. Vazquez plays with his cultural identity and the assumptions associated with Caribbean culture.
Victor Vazquez, Nail-Head, 1998, Hand painted gelatin silver print with wax, 48" x 48".
Vazquez is currently represented by Seraphin Gallery; his work, including La Ave Maria, is on display until September 6th. In Fall 2016, Victor Vazquez will have a Retrospective exhibition at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Seraphin Gallery is pleased to congratulate Victor Vazquez on this achievement.