Vermibus

by Eric Mitjans on
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Vermibus · Original Artworks

Biography

From the smoothing of facial skin, over reduction of eye bags and wrinkles erasure, to enlargment of muscles and the slimming of waists, “photoshopping” the human body to perfection has become the norm in advertising. Through presentation of this idealized view of human body, advertisers seek to persuade customers to buy their products, essentially promising a better life. We must be beautiful in order to be happy, and rarely does an average person realize that this premise is completely false.
A highly talented Berlin-based artist and activist Vermibus has developed a unique practice centered around the critique of contemporary beauty standards. He comments on the attempts of advertisement and consumer society in general that aim to take away individual identities only to replace them by the one of a certain brand. This artist bases his practice on targeting the depersonalizing effects of advertising, which he negates by exaggerating them. He removes official poster ads from the street and alters them in his studio by applying chemical solvents to the image. He dissolves the face and flesh of the models appearing in the posters, smudges and erases brand logos, and then returns the ads into their original place in public spaces. Vermibus further dehumanizes the figures that were already depersonalized, as a means of launching a sharp social critique against the advertising industry. The street is essential to the message of Vermibus’ work, and it is where his art begins and ends.

Solvent-Manipulated Images

Vermibus’ art has been referred to as painting, but it is actually painting counter action. Beginning with an advertisement or a poster acquired from the street, the artist covers the surface with transparent solvents that chemically break apart colors. After layers of solvents and rubbing, scratching, and manipulation of the surface — the observer can’t figure out what the poster once was. This intervention creates an entirely new image and a new characters, stripped from their initial appearance. At the end of the process — he returns the works to their natural habitat. These altered ads do not usually remain in public for too long, because this action is not only anarchic, but also illegal. The ad-spots typically get censored very quickly becoming an area of consumption again. Vermibus’ short-lived artworks speak to our contemporary society, bring to light the issues related to the artificial beauty, produced and reinforced by fashion industries. He questions the influence of images and ads, as well as the collective passive approach to everything suggested by advertisers. Although some of the altered images might appear as mummies, ghosts or other ethereal creatures, they still depict a form of beauty, granted, a completely different one than before. Over the years, the artist improved his innovatove techinque. Today, he doesn’t only delete and dissolve pictures, but also transports color from one poster onto another, thus shifting his process more towards painting in both technique and effect.

The Unveiling Beauty Project

Unveiling Beauty is the most recent and one of the most challenging artistic engagements of this Spanish artist to date. Organized in the collaboration with the Open Walls Gallery in Berlin, the Unveiling Beauty takes the artist’s inimitable style to a whole new conceptual level. The project resulted in series of new public interventions during the course of the most influential Fashion Week in New York, London, Milan and Paris. Through a sequence of interventions in the “Big Four”, Vermibus endeavored to address the key issues of beauty-cults, at the very core of their creation. The artist began his journey at the New York Fashion Week in September 2015, in a city that is often referred as the center of the fashion world. He then moved towards London, where he set up displays in Shoreditch, Sloane Square, on a bus station in front of the V&A museum, and in front of the Harrods department store. Moving on, he arrived in Milan, a city which has a major influence on international fashion trends, taking over adverts in the Piazza Cavour, Piazza Repubblica and via Galileo Galilei. The last stop on Vermibus’ creative journey was Paris, a historical and cultural center of fashion industry and a crown of this project. The artist installed his provocative artworks on various locations across the city including the rue La Fayette, Le Bon Marché, Palais de Tokio, Printemps, and Alma Marceau. In all of the four cities, he challenged the atmosphere of glamour and consumption, countering this byproduct of the Fashion Week craze.

Background and Other Projects

Born in 1987 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Vermibus began writing graffiti in his early teens. In 2003, he moved to Madrid where he explored different media and met the members of TGLQV? (Te Gusta Lo Que Ves? – Do You Like What You See?) collective known for their stencils and anti-adverts. Subsequently, he began to work for an advertising agency as an illustrator, and later, as a photographer covering different events. In the end of 2010, Vermibus visited Berlin and was captivated with its thrilling and constantly growing street art scene. At the same time, he was fired from his job as he wasn’t fitting the required beauty standards, so the artist decided to stay in Germany’s capital and start a new life. His first large scale project was Unmasking Kate (2012), in which he used Kate Moss, a world fashion icon, as a target in order to defy the fashion industry. This was followed by Dissolving Europe (2013), where he built on his previous series by attempting to take over adverts in Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Milan, and Vienna. Première of Vermibus’ video Dissolving Europe was held on December 13th, 2013 at PLATOON KUNSTHALLE in Berlin.

Deconstruction of the Imposed Beauty Standards

Since the first collaboration between Vermibus and the OPEN WALLS Gallery in 2012, the artist executed more than six hundred interventions in public spaces throughout the world. In all of them continues to dispute the way we perceive the figures of beauty, unveiling the constructed and artificial nature of physical attractiveness, found on retouched fashion photographs. Vermibus does not only deconstruct the dictated beauty standards, but also tears down the complexity of ideological mechanisms that define consumerist culture. In March 2016, Vermibus was part of Vincularte event in La Casa Encendida, where he showed his face in public for the first time. The artist’ first major solo show was opened on June 2nd, 2016 at the OPEN WALLS Gallery.

An Introspective Turn – Vermibus’ Collages

The most recent series of works created by Vermibus diverts from the public projects he became known for. Through an introspective process, the artist turns to the medium of collage and works in a small scale creating a poignant, associative group of works. The technique of collage corresponds perfectly with the layers of emotions invested in these miniatures, while their style refers to both the artist’s proclivity for activism and reference the early avantgarde works of Surrealism. Vermibus’ collages are created for a single viewer, creating a relationship with them on a far more personal level. This intimate outlook evokes feelings of isolation, nostalgia and depression, a spectrum of thoughts yet unseen in the oeuvre of this street artist.
Immaculately composed, with occasional deliberate imperfections in tears, these black and white collages mark a special segment of Vermibus’ artistic path. They are rare gems that allow us to take a glimpse of the innermost meditations of the figure usually invested in public art. The series was produced second half of 2016 and it consists of 9 small scale works.

Selected exhibitions

  • 2017 · Urban Art Biennale · Völklingen (Germany)
  • 2017 · Street Art / Inventory (Group Show) · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2017 · Urvanity International New Contemporary Art Fair · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Madrid (Spain)
  • 2016 · Art Fair Cologne (Group Show) · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Cologne (Germany)
  • 2016 · The Poster Remediated (Group Show) · Poster Museum at Wilanów · Warsaw (Poland)
  • 2016 · Unveiling Beauty (Solo Show) · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2016 · Art Marbella (Group Show) · Carles Taché Gallery · Marbella (Spain)
  • 2015 · Group Show · Grand Opening · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2015 · Urbanart Biennale 2015 · Weltkulturerbe Völklinger Hütte · Völklingen (Germany)
  • 2014 · Group Show · POSITIONS · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2014 · Solo Show · La Estética del Dolor · La Taché Gallery · Barcelona (Spain)
  • 2013 · Platoon Kunsthalle · Première of Vermibus’ video Dissolving Europe · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2013 · Art fair Cologne · Solo show · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Cologne (Germany)
  • 2013 · Escape The Golden Cage · Group show · Palais Kinsky · Vienna (Austria)
  • 2013 · Stroke#7 Art Fair · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Munich (Germany)
  • 2013 · Dissidents · Group show · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Unmasking Kate · Solo show · Moniker Art Fair · London (England)
  • 2012 · Stroke#6 Art Fair · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Intervention · C/O Berlin · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Showcase Reboot · Platoon Kunsthalle · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Paris Zone Libre · Group show · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Paris (France)
  • 2012 · Solo Show · Weinmeisterstrasse · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Berlinale · Street Intervention · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Solo Show · Görlitzer Bahnhof · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Solo Show · U-bahn Schönleinstrasse · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2012 · Bread & Butter · Street Intervention · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2011 · Bread & Butter · Street Intervention · Berlin (Germany)
  • 2011 · Solo Show · U-bahn Leinestrasse · Berlin (Germany)

Selected press