Finding Ourselves

Tony Vazquez-Figueroa’s use of crude oil as a medium investigates the rise and fall of his country, Venezuela, and its relationship with black gold.
Words by Sandy Lindsey | Photos by LNS Gallery | Headshot by Edson Smitter | December 27, 2020 | People

Venezuela is a land dependent on its oil fields. It’s one of the largest exporters of oil and has the world’s largest proven oil reserves. Oil has determined its history, its economy, its social and political existence for hundreds of years, long before 20th Century oil rigs began to mark the landscape. Tony Vazquez-Figueroa has explored the substance of crude oil and its many manifestations with the intention of using his artistic skills and vision to try and understand what happened to one of the richest countries that forced him and thousands of others to forsake their homeland and flee. Using crude oil as a key material in the creation of works that include drawings, photography, oil-ink blots, three-dimensional objects and prints made from his specially created oil ink, he has produced a personal archive of the products that form his country’s — and his own — collective memory and patrimony;