Interview: Ariel Vargassal

So we'll start with your name and where you're from and what kind of artwork is this.

My name is Ariel Vargassal. I’m from Mexico City but I’m based in Los Angeles. I’m mostly a painter but I decided to do this interactive piece, thinking about how I can give the message of the destruction of the bees to people, and people interact with the piece. It’s really difficult to do it in 2 dimensional work like the paintings, but in this case that’s what I decided, to participate with, collaborate with other people and to bring this piece alive. These are ceramics and they are individually handmade and hand painted, and then they just give the whole metaphor of the destruction. We as humans, we have the power or either help them or destroy them. So I wanted the public to come and document the piece, take pictures with themselves so that way the piece will stay for a longer time with them, you know.

How did you find out about the destruction of the bees?

Well, I’ve been painting the series of work. My body of work has been involving animals, and I’ve been doing this for a long time. So in my research to get references for animals to paint, I’ve been encounter of documents and information about what was happening in the world with animals and ecosystems. And when I came across about the bees are the most important living organism for us, for humanity, for any animal. If the bees wouldn’t exist, we don’t have the resources, we don’t have food. So it was very clear for me to bring that message to my audiences, to people to see.

When you create your work, how often do you collaborate with other artists with you?

Most of my collaborations happen with people that are — when I do paintings, I do it by my myself, because it’s a world I’m more familiar with, right? I do sculptures. In this case, I asked my friend because he’s a ceramist and that I had the idea by creating these bees. But I’m not too familiar with the technicality of ceramics. So I have to ask like a guidance to start making the bees. And the music, I’m not a musician but I have this idea of creating this symphony for the piece, and I asked my friend as a musician to be like, “Hey, I have this idea, will you help me out?” And we do it and it’s how it is. This is pretty much the first collaboration I have done with other people and it’s been magical and turned out so good so I’m very happy.

How do you consider selling your work when you deal with you working on your own pieces or you in a collaboration?

When it’s a collaboration I try to think about how much work has been put into it in, especially if we’d sell this piece, the resources will go equally. I can share them equally to the people that have been participating to create this piece. So when I do the paintings, the profit goes just to me, but in this case I would like to share the profit with the other artists as well.

You guys are working with Building Bridges?


How do you connect with nonprofit organizations when doing your work?

Nonprofit organizations give me the freedom to become a better artist in a sense that I don’t have to feed the formula that commercial galleries have. I have been fortunate enough to work with commercial galleries, and it’s fantastic, they’re great venues for an artist. We definitely need the galleries to connect the bridge between the art and the collector. But when you work with a nonprofit, nonprofit gives you a freedom of pushing yourself outside the box and create something greater than you will ever think that you could do, in this case this piece, because this piece will be really difficult to put into a commercial gallery, right? So when I came with the idea to the gallery director, she had no idea. She saw my work before because we’ve been working for a few years now, and when we had the opportunity to do another solo show, I told her as a part of this solo show I want to create a installation. She’s like, “Well, go for it, do it.” She had no idea what I was going to do. I was just most selling the rhetoric, selling the idea versus the images, right? So it’s fantastic to work with nonprofits. It’s fantastic to work with organizations that are focused on the cultural aspect, in the arts more than the profit. You know what I mean?
Interview: Ariel Vargassal, Dot Red
Interview: Ariel Vargassal, Dot Red

Is there anything else that you want to talk about or share about your work as an artist and what it really took for you to get here?

I want to tell people they need to respect the fact that art is a career, it’s not just a hobby, and there’s so many minds out there that they need those outlets. But we need to be very cautious of stepping outside of only the profit and what’s sellable and what we market as sellable. Because when we stop the critical minds in the people that really know about art, sometimes the resources only go to people that have the network to sell the work. And then for that condemn on the privileged people and the privileged communities to never succeed because these people have those networks. So sometimes art and especially in today arena, art has become a big business but only the business connected to the people that are in the networks, and they are reaching out to other talents that they may not have access to those networks. But we need to be aware there’s so much talent in other communities to bring them and to help them. You know what I mean? We need to be very aware of how we’re going to reach out to underprivileged communities, underrepresented communities, to help them and to search for talent and bring it up to this and keep helping and project. You can have great revenue, I mean, commercial galleries still can make great money by investing in new talent, not just stay in the same box of representing big names that have just been here for a long time, and they are not even creating anymore. We need to focus on the people that are still creating and especially the new voices are coming up.


Thank you.