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Ariel Vargassal: Self-Made Myths

Ariel Vargassal: Self-Made Myths

To be immortal is commonplace; except for man, all creatures are immortal, for they are ignorant of death. --Jorge Luis Borges

Painter Ariel Vargassal renders vignettes culled from an esoteric plane of consciousness, a hybrid world of being and nothingness, externalizing the human psyche in jewel-like portraiture augmented by symbolism. With touches of hyper-stylized post-Pop beauty and the gravitas of modern-day mythology, Vargassal’s humans are young and vital, of diverse race and gender, nude or else evocatively dressed, stood against unblemished white space. In each tableaux they -- we, really -- are joined by animal companions, striking counterparts whose presence signals a deeper meaning.

The way Vargassal renders the figure is sensual, but not sexualized; even with nudes, he’s more classics-inflected than flirty. And they are very often costumed, with garments that are chosen to function as expressive clues to the “story” as well as passages of color and shape in the balanced asymmetry of the compositions. Their poses and body language and the vectors of penetrating stares and far-off gazes interact with the narrative tether of the props -- crowns, melting ice cream, smashed birthday cake, pink flamingos and gold-star balloons, umbrellas, books, chairs, toys -- they wear and wield.

But it’s the animal -- cow