Michael Vasquez: Tension & Boundaries

Michael Vasquez knows about boundaries. Forever enamored by the rawness of gang culture, his figurative style explores themes of hierarchy, territory and belonging through painting and installation. 

Now at a seminal point of his career, the broader concepts of inclusion and exclusion seem more tangible than ever.  But even in this artistic evolution, his point of view in the work remains that of a young kid looking up to his badass friends.  Often dwarfing the viewer by the scale of his pieces – an intentional effect heightened by painted tableaus and installations that create experiential environments - walking into Vasquez’s studio is like entering the backstage of a magic show.  It all begs the question: where so much of gang culture is about ‘keeping it real,’ why does the work feel so fantastical and curated?

michael vasquez, art, tension and boundaries

Vasquez explains how realness plays an ironic part in the tension of his work.  On one hand, his representations of crews portray a moral code of absolutes; on the other, these same crew members are painted out of temporal and spatial sequence, and are given new narratives by the artist.  With Vasquez, he is both an observer and creator: a student of gang mentality leading audiences through his social experiments.

michael vasquez, art, tension and boundaries

Today, Vasquez will celebrate the opening of “The Crazy Life” at New Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles, in a group show with painter and neon artist Patrick Martinez and portrait photographer Gregory Bojorquez.  Tonight you can see his work in Miami at Locust Projects’ Annual Spring Fling Fundraiser: La Dolce Vita at the Herzog de Meuron parking garage (1111 Lincoln Road, 7th Floor).