Victor Vazquez: Art Net Magazine, 06.06.08
Victor Vázquez, Iconographer
MAP chief curator Cheryl Hartub collaborated with the artist Victor Vázquez in the translation of several of his most memorable images into a museum installation, titled "Dialogues." With eight light boxes and two other sculptural works, the project manages to re-contextualize the MAP permanent collection at the same time that it gives new life to Vázquez’ sepia-toned photographs addressing questions of body politics.
My favorite juxtaposition between old and new was Mattress and Ball (2005), a work that features a pair of free-standing photographs of a soccer ball sitting amidst a messy tangle of hair and dirt on top of a used mattress. An obvious homage to Arte Povera, the work looked elegantly out of place in MAP’s pristine galleries, not to mention juxtaposed with Vanitas (1678), a 17th-century painting by Pieter Gerritsz Van Roestraeten. But both artists present the eternal conflict between life and all its stuff and the dark finality of death. In Vanitas, the material world is symbolized by a shiny black-and-gold lacquered chest with elaborate Rococo mounts. For Vázquez, materiality is represented by a small tin can holding a toy soccer ball (like a coffin) that sat on the floor, not far from the two photos. Painted on the floor, beside the can, is a bold question mark.
Vázquez took a chance at syncretism by mixing Catholic iconography with the Afro-Caribbean religious traditions of Santeria in a two-sided light box placed in the Spanish Baroque wing. The image that stood out is Still Life for Yemayá (1994), in which a foot pierced by nails calls to mind martyrdom and crucifixion. As the title refers to the name of the Santeria deity Yemayá, the foot in front of Francisco de Zurbaran’s The Crucifixion (1630) seemed to question assumptions we all have about faith and the common denominators in the representation of its iconography.
Victor Vázquez’s Still Life for Yemayá at the Museo de Arte de Ponce
Seraphin Gallery l Contemporary Philadelphia Art Gallery and Art Consultant
1108 Pine St. l 215-923-7000 l email@example.com