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Artist Tony Vazquez-Figueroa has researched the theme of Modernism in Latin America for over a decade, studying its origins and influences both positive and negative on the local population and its aesthetic. Most explicitly he confronts the issue in Venezuela and how oil was and continues to be a crucial element that shapes this crisis ridden society to this very day.
Venezuela is a land dependent on its oil fields. It was one of the largest exporters of oil and is home to the world’s largest oil reserves.
In the late 1940’s and 50’s, Venezuela reaped the benefits of this almighty abundance, embarking on astonishing developmental projects including infrastructure, hotels, and shopping malls, all financed by oil, with the sole purpose to make Venezuela “Modern”. In tandem with this meteoric accent in wealth came a time of political constraint and widespread restrictions on its people’s rights and freedoms.
In this exhibition artist Tony Vazquez-Figueroa explores through the medium of crude oil and its many expressions, how a country could express modernity through architecture and infrastructure but not with respect to democracy and its peoples’ civil liberties. How, with such riches and resources at its disposal, Venezuela could not have the foresight to care for its people and instead facilitated their descent into abstract poverty. Here Tony Vazquez-Figueroa grapples to understand what happened to one of the globes richest countries and the subsequent events that forced both the artist and millions of others to flee and desert their homeland.
His works which include photography, pieces molded on to canvas and three-dimensional sculptures encapsulating suspended crude oil, all combine to present us a rich analysis and archives of events . These are all thoughtfully curated here in Ideal Modernity, to deliver this personal atheneum that embodies both his country and his own collective memory.