Feelings of Awe and Dread


On View: “Oasis”
Sparks Gallery, San Diego, California
through January 9, 2022

Sparks Gallery is presenting Oasis, an exhibition of recent works by the Southern California artist Perry Vásquez (b. 1959).

Painting of a palm tree
Perry Vásquez (b. 1959), “Landscape 3/3,” 2021, oil on canvas, 96 1/2 x 28 1/2 in.

At its heart is a powerful series of paintings of palm trees, which are ubiquitous in his region and normally symbolize nourishment, shelter, and bounty.

Instead, the artist has framed their regal forms in peculiar or dire scenarios, swaying violently, often ablaze, or perhaps morphed into cell towers that only look like trees.

Vásquez explains, “I recall being shaken the first time I saw a burning palm tree. My response was to investigate the meaning of this phenomenon through painting and to work through my feelings of awe and dread…. Our species can choose to protect and nurture life on our planet or we can waste it. The choice is ours.”

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