At some point, the question of identity is bound to be first and foremost in one's mind. It can be a perplexing thing, contemplating the existential questions of 'who am I, where do I belong, what makes me 'me'?' Perhaps it's troubling because the path through such thought exercises seldom leads to a definitive answer...
I suspect the Trinidadian-based Venezuelan artist, Luis Vasquez La Roche, has been grappling with this lack of the definite in his personal life as displayed in his recent solo exhibit at Medulla Gallery in Port of Spain. La Busqueda - The Search serves as a bare view into Vasquez La Roche's process; the viewer is implicated in the act of self-exploration, and thus, is also asked "who are you, where do you belong, what makes you 'you'?
The charcoal and graphite drawings are quite bold, partly because of the scale upon which Vasquez La Roche works, and partly because of the raw, emotive approach that is contained within the taut contrast of clean line-work and wild shading. Some works exhibit an almost neurotic control of the graphite and the viewer gets the sense that this is the artist attempting to clearly delineate some aspect of self - a prescriptive understanding of one's complexities, worked out through maze-like patterns, distortions and slices of bones, skin, muscle tone and other tangible elements.
Conversely, other pieces find Vasquez La Roche being unable to rein in the unaccounted or unexplained parts of his being, and large swatches are roughly covered with ghastly charcoal images or slubby renderings of body parts. Grappling with a multinational, Venezuelan/Chilean/Trinidadian heritage seems to provide him with happy cultural commonalities and discordant bits of multiple identities to sort through. There is the sense of belonging to all or belonging to none, and Vasquez La Roche's work in La Busqueda vacillates between concepts of the individual self and representations of a more unified whole.
The pieces themselves are quite easy to like. They are thoughtfully rendered and radiate with a soul-baring honesty on the part of Vasquez La Roche. They offer a route through the self, and yet, La Busqueda leaves you with the sneaky feeling that the journey, the search, is not complete...
Words | Lisa-Marie Harris
La Busqueda - Medulla Gallery July 2012