Vermibus

by Eric Mitjans on
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Vermibus selected artworks

Biography

From smoothing face skin, reducing eye bags and erasing wrinkles to enlarging muscles and slimming waists, “photoshopping” the human body to perfection is the norm in advertising. By presenting idealized images, advertisers seek to persuade customers to buy their products, no matter what. A highly talented Berlin-based artist and activist Vermibus has developed a unique practice centered on the critique of beauty standards in particular, and advertisement and consumer society in general, which takes away one’s identity to replace it by the one of the brand. Targeting advertising’s depersonalizing effects, he removes the official posters from the street and alters them in his studio with chemical solvents—he removes the face and flesh of the models appearing in the posters, as well as brand logos—and then returns them into their original context in public spaces. Vermibus dehumanizes the figures that were already depersonalized, as a means of launching a sharp social critique against the advertising industry. The street is central 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 paintings, but it is actually painting counter action. Beginning with an advertisement or poster he took from the street, the artist covers the surface with transparent solvents that chemically break apart colors, allowing him to create a new image and a new characters. After layers of solvents and rubbing, scratching, and manipulation of the surface—the observer can’t figure out what the poster once was. At the end of the process — he returns them to their natural habitat where they do not usually remain too long because of the illegality of the action. Those spaces typically get censored very quickly becoming an area of consumption again. His short-living 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 collective passive approach to everything suggested by advertisers. Although some of recreated subjects appear as mummies, ghosts or other ethereal creatures, they still envision a form of beauty, granted, a completely different one than before. Over the years, the artist improved his techinque. Today, he doesn’t only delete and dissolve pictures, but also transport color from one poster onto another one, thus moving his process more and more towards painting and creating striking and unique pieces of art.

Unveiling Beauty Project

Unveiling Beauty is the most recent and one of the most ambitious and most challenging artistic engagements for the Spanish artist to date. Organized in the collaboration with the Open Walls Gallery in Berlin, Unveiling Beauty brings the artist inimitable style of artistic expression to a whole new level, delivering series of new public interventions during the course of the most influential Fashion Week events from New York and London to Milan and Paris. Through a series of interventions in the “Big Four”, Vermibus aimed to address the issues of beauty-cults, at those very same venues where they are being created and established. He 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. Vermibus then moved towards London, where he set up displays in Shoreditch, Sloane Square, on a bus station in front of V&A museum, and in front of 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, which is perhaps, out all the cities from the list, most directly and historically related to fashion. The artist installed his eye-catching 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, a byproduct of Fashion Week craze.

Background and Other Projects

Born in 1987, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Vermibus began doing 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. Simultaneously, he was fired from his job as he wasn’t fitting the required beauty standards, so afterwards, 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 challenge the fashion industry. It was followed by Dissolving Europe (2013), where he built on his previous concepts 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 OPEN WALLS Gallery in 2012, he did more than six hundred interventions in public spaces throughout the world, in which he’s challenging the way we perceive the oppressing figures of beauty, unveiling the constructed and artificial nature of physical attractiveness, found on retouched fashion photographs. Vermibus does not only deconstruct the imposed beauty standards, but also the complexity of ideological mechanisms that define consumerist culture. In March 2016, Vermibus was part of Vincularte in La Casa Encendida, where he showed his face in public for the first time. The artist’ first major solo show will be open on June 2nd, 2016 at OPEN WALLS Gallery. Entitled Unveiling Beauty, the exhibition will be on display until June 25th.

Selected exhibitions

  • 2016 · Solo Show · Unveiling Beauty · OPEN WALLS Gallery · Berlin (Germany)
  • 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 · curated by 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