In the past years Vermibus has become well known for his outright criticism of the dictated beauty standards. His international project “Unveiling Beauty” exposed a darker nature of fashion advertising. Cleverly planned, it was conducted in all the major fashion centers across the Western Hemisphere shining light on the artist’s innovative technique and his uncompromised stance when it comes to exploitation of human insecurities related to aesthetics. This is why Vermibus’ latest jaunt into the more classical method of collage might appear surprising at first.
A new series of 9 collages Vermibus created in the course of 2016 marks a fresh period in this artist’s work. In it, he returns to studio and explores the expressive possibilities of the small scale and intimism.
Vermibus’ Collages – Turn into Intimism
The shift in his practice took even Vermibus by surprise, even though it came as a natural and more personal extension of his public activism. The format of new collages confirms their intimist nature, while they address problems related to depression, nostalgia, introspection and isolation. We can read these intimate messages in the names of the works first and in the way images are composed. Female principle is confronted with male, aesthetic opposites are tied into one, elaborating on various questions related to identity. Defenseless human is in the conceptual center of these works, challenged by a number of issues coming from the outside.
The fact Vermibus diverts from his signature solvent painting method stands for the more organic approach he had in this body of work. While the solvent-based poster interventions show strokes of the artist, they are the strongest in carrying the socially conscious message. Collages, with their clear cuts and rough tears of the paper, are mementos to artist’s intervention, objects in which his persona plays the key role. Still, Vermibus stays true to paper as his fundamental canvas and continues to use photography as the starting point of his work.
Advertising as the Source of All Troubles
Advertising remains one of the most perturbing issues that drive Vermibus’ creativity. Although hidden behind the front of subjectivity, it is very much present as a visual commentary on general perception of the female body. The usual fashion-related imagery is cleared of garments, stripped to its essence, juxtaposed with suggestions of male gaze to which it is subjected. Objectification of women, supported by advertising is the activistic focus of these collages. We find this message amidst the layers of emotional and frustrating visual metaphors. They serve as the counterbalance to the upbeat, colorful messages the world of ads emits convincing people that they are not good enough to be accepted, at least not without a particular product it promotes.
An Homage to Surrealism
For those familiar with Vermibus’ oeuvre, this suite of miniature collages is a rather intriguing novelty. The artist diversifies his field of action, subconsciously delving into a more historical domain. If we dare to observe Street Art activism as the most avant-garde of movements today, the progressive nature of these collages might even appear inherent. They possess much of the spirit of Surrealist photography, often referencing forms and methods found in works of Man Ray or Hannah Höch. These pioneers of photomontage used photography and collage to deliver a different message, but the quintessential intent is the same here: the artists make their fresh voice heard through visual experimentation and criticism. Similarly, Vermibus utilizes these processes of Surrealism to address a very current problem of aggressive advertising. The black and white palette is an obvious connection, allowing for the visceral element of the works to show. The suspense and tension we find in these small pieces are typical of Surrealist photography, at this time serving a contemporary purpose.
A Cornerstone in Vermibus’ Practice
Inspired by emotional experiences first, these collages can be seen as curiosities in the Vermibus’ oeuvre and an extraordinary opportunity for collectors to acquire something special. Further, they mark a particular point in the artist’s career: tokens of his innermost meditations, they stay on the path of artistic activism. A coherent series already, this group of collages opens new doors for further artistic elaborations Vermibus is yet to reveal.