Richard Vergez is a Cuban-American visual artist. He was born in Philadelphia, PA, worked and lived in New York as member of the Brooklyn Collage Collective, and currently works and resides in South Florida. His background in graphic design and audio/visual collaboration is reflected though his hand-made collaged works on paper and mixed media. Imagery which combines both human and technological elements, relates to ideas surrounding an ever-evolving modern dystopian identity.
Richard has exhibited work in New York, London, Chicago, Miami, Sydney, and Fort Lauderdale.
Hello Richard! Where are you writing from? What have you been up to recently?
Greetings, I am currently writing you from my home office in sunny/shady Miami, FL. This week I am moving into a new studio warehouse space in the Wynwood area of the city, which is kinda like the Bushwick of Miami but cleaner. I’m looking forward to having a new space to create new visual work and sound compositions.
You’re known for your collages that explore the ‘ever-evolving dystopian identity.’ We’re curious to know what attracted you to this concept, and why you chose to portray collages in a minimalist manner?
Every day, little by little, we are being swallowed up by the media. We are being faced with a daily influx of excess through our phones, computers, and televisions. I want to take a step outside by embracing simplicity. I’m attracted to this concept because it instills fear and people can be empathetic towards it. I am empathetic towards it, that is why I create the work. I have scaled down most of my collages now to no more than 2 pieces interacting in a composition. Aesthetically it speaks to me to have a generous amount of negative space, and conceptually I prefer not to clutter the visual story and leave “meaning” up to one’s own interpretation. Anonymity plays a big part too, the anti-identity. We are always trying to identify a face so we can better understand. I feel the imagination works harder when elements are obscured or scaled down.
The subject of your work revolves around people and technology. What is the reason behind this?
It is the current state of the world, people and technology. We sit around now waiting for the next new cell phone to come out that will make our lives easier so we can interact with others who have that new cell phone too, ultimately resulting in a sense of personal fulfillment through technology. I’m interested in a future world where we are the machines and no longer humans. As illustrated in my collages, we are free to shape shift and take on any form and inhabit any landscape. But it’s not perfect yet, we are still damaged and attempting new forms.
“Every day, little by little, we are being swallowed up by the media…I want to take a step outside by embracing simplicity”
Your art is also heavily influenced by the avant-garde era. Why does this genre captivate you?
The avant-garde seemed like a pure time. New ideas that went against the established norm. An exciting era of innovation.
You transformed some of your still work into gifs and moving installations. How did you first come up with this idea and how do you go about making them?
My greatest influence has always been film. I love the cinematic experience which takes you outside of your own reality. So I felt that my images needn’t stand still, they can take on a whole new life with movement and sound.
Could you tell us the different ways you approach a commercial project versus your personal work?
Commercial projects are mostly up to the client unless they leave the creative control completely up to me. But still, you are trying to please them. So I guess I approach it by taking a step outside of my own head and placing myself in theirs. A challenge that can be both rewarding and frustrating. Personal work is all me with a little bit of my audience. Coming from a Graphic Design background, I am versed in keeping an identity that is “on-brand.” As much as that can be vocational jargon, I firmly believe in it. It’s important to me to have a clear aesthetic that is visually disciplined. And you need some audience interaction to gauge your work. The tree falling in the forest parallel.
We’re curious about your audio series ‘Drowning the Virgin Silence.’ Can you tell us a little bit about that?
That is a pseudonym for my music project which I started over a decade ago. In the same way I used found and cut out imagery to create visual compositions, with this project I use old bits of sound recorded on tape and reassemble them into loops, which I then create a musical tapestry from. The results are something you might hear in the background of a strange film. The name comes from a Surrealist poem.
Do you have any suggestions or advice to give to young artists?
Be disciplined and don’t be afraid to create something different. And to collage artists specifically, don’t get too carried away! More is less.