Perry Vásquez | Some Palms
Mimosas and Coffee with the Artist
Saturday January 28, 11 am - 1 pm
Some Palms centers the palm tree as a symbol for the idealism of California, simultaneously mythologizing and interrupting its appeal.
Date palms, synonymous with the California landscape, were imported by Franciscan monks in the late 1600s as ornamental nods to the plant’s appearances in the bible, transforming Southern California from an arid desert into an oasis. These palms, with only one species native to California, provide neither shade nor fruit, and require vast resources of water from near and far watersheds in order to thrive. Vásquez has considered this ecological quandary to create paintings of palms engulfed in flames, an image which has become synonymous with accelerated rates of wildfires across the region. In other paintings, he further dissects the myth of the palm tree with paintings of Monopalms, the concealed utility structures that use synthetic materials to conform to the foliage that encapsulates the Southern California ideal.
At times, Vásquez’s lone, burning palm confers quasi-religious comparisons to Roman-Catholic representations of purgatory and the anima sola (or lonely spirit). Prayed to in devotional art in Europe and Central America, the image of the anima sola depicts a woman breaking free from her chains in a fiery prison in between heaven and hell, marking her destiny to reach the afterlife. From this perspective, the artist explores the palm tree’s symbolic past and uncertain future as iconography of an increasingly unwelcome environment.
Ultimately, Perry Vásquez reframes these icons as fixtures of cultural impermanence, moving between realist renderings to atmospheric gestural compositions emphasized by impasto flames against an otherwise flat surface.
Perry Vásquez, originally from Los Angeles, has been working in the San Diego region since 1987 and earned his MFA in Visual Art from the University of California, San Diego. He is a recipient of the 2021 San Diego Art Prize. Vásquez has exhibited his artwork in group and solo exhibitions locally and internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Laguna Beach Art Museum, the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego. Vásquez is currently a Professor of Art at Southwestern College, CA.