“In search of…roots. Freedom. Family. a way out. state. situation. the self. Sometimes I think I know who I am, but it happens that I don’t know myself anymore. I think in my head I am that person but when I analyse from what I say to what I do, it is a contradiction. When did I lose track of that person that I thought I was? …In a period of maybe 8 years I have forgot or put aside things that I thought…were from my core personality. The older I become the blurrier the lines of who I am become…Are we one person or many different persons?”
– Journal notes from Luis Vasquez La Roche
Luis Vasquez La Roche’s exhibition of drawings entitled, “The Search – La Busqueda” opened on June 14, 2012 at Medulla Art Gallery, Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Vasquez La Roche resides in Trinidad but he was born and raised in Venezuela by a Chilean father and Trinidadian mother. His body of work is a searching study of self-identity as he attempts to tackle and understand experiences of place, race and culture. He uses what I argue to be x-ray vision to see beyond the surface of being. The “X” here is also a critical descriptor of his amorphous ontological state – “x” being the symbol for anything unknown – as he wrestles with competing notions of self as a stable, essential core and self as a decentred, postmodern, fragmented, contradictory state of being involving multiple identities. Vasquez La Roche grapples with the idea of self-identity as a “thing” which can be found in contrast to that which is constructed and birthed again and again in different spacio-temporal experiences. Images of bones, musculature, dental radiographs and fingerprints are strong recurring motifs deployed as identifiers in his investigation.
In the piece entitled “Fragmented – Fragmentado,” Vasquez La Roche presents a divided illustration of self. It is a self that shifts between planes. The triangle at the centre seems to suggest the three cardinal points of his personal experiences: Venezuela, Chile and Trinidad. These points act as sites of torque and tension pulling and hurling Vasquez La Roche along different trajectories. The drawing is a biological schematic that moves beyond objective looking to envision and render an anatomical picture of the artist in intimate and subjective ways. If this piece splinters the artist, the drawing titled “The Search – La Busqueda,” describes self-identity as a unified whole with a dominant core. He uses curvilinear lines to suggest the bundles of fibrous tissue comprising the muscles of the body. This line work gives a sense of movement but it is a motion that revolves around a large fingerprint, which serves as a nucleus. The fingerprint is symbolic of a distinctive identifying characteristic of self. If any self-transformation is to take place, this core dictates it. The thick, dark border reinforces a demarcation and constraint of self. The drawing is at once an image of a well-defined skull – an “I” mass – and a geographical land mass such that the idea of a cerebral self-identity is a conflation of mind and place. This link between identity and geography is manifest in another drawing named “Estas son las palabras de un emigrante – These are the words of an emigrant.” In a detail of the piece, teeth are drawn with the pattern of fingerprints on their surface. Yet, these prints – together with the outlines of the teeth – can be read as topographical maps, which attempt to depict physical features or landscapes of a self.
To read the rest of the review click here : ARC Magazine.