• El Solo Yo (Stigmata)

    “El Solo Yo (Stigmata)*”

    Date 1989-1990
    Dimensions 76"x 76"
    Category Painting
    Medium Acrylic, oil and encaustic on canvas
    Genre Contemporary
    Period 20th Century
    Collection * Title Translation: I the only one (Stigmata)
  • Dos en Uno

    “Dos en Uno *”

    Date 1998-1999
    Dimensions 71 1/4"x 82 1/4"
    Category Painting
    Medium Oil, enamel and collage on canvas
    Genre Contemporary
    Period 20th Century
    Collection * Title Translation: Two in One
  • Pintura Voodoo

    “Pintura Voodoo *”

    Date 1995
    Dimensions 84"x 92"
    Category Painting
    Medium Oil and enamel on canvas
    Genre Contemporary
    Period 20th Century
    Collection * Title Translation: Voodoo painting
  • Todo fue un mal entendido (aparición errónea de Toño Bicicleta)

    “Todo fue un mal entendido (aparición errónea de Toño Bicicleta) *”

    Date 2002-2003
    Dimensions 82 1/4"x 105 3/4"
    Category Painting
    Medium Oil, enamel and collage on canvas
    Genre Contemporary
    Period 21st Century
    Collection * Title Translation: It was all a misunderstanding (erroneous appearance of Toño Bicicleta)
  • La Pesca Mágica

    “La Pesca Mágica *”

    Date 2003
    Dimensions 24"x 18"
    Category Painting
    Medium Acrylic, enamel, oil and collage on paper
    Genre Contemporary
    Period 21st Century
    Collection * Title Translation: The magic catch
  • Se están acabando las navidades

    “Se están acabando las navidades *”

    Date 1996
    Category Painting
    Medium Oil, enamel, varnish and collage on canvas
    Genre Contemporary
    Period 20th Century
    Collection * Title Translation: Christmas is almost over
  • ¿Qué es arte contemporáneo?

    “¿Qué es arte contemporáneo? *”

    Date 2000
    Category Painting
    Medium Enamel and collage over Haitian painting
    Genre Contemporary
    Period 21st Century
    Collection * Title Translation: What is contemporary art?
  • Los Valientes Alumnos de Primer Grado

    “Los Valientes Alumnos de Primer Grado *”

    Date 1991
    Dimensions 22"x 30"
    Category Painting
    Medium Graphite, oil pastels and collage on paper
    Genre Contemporary
    Period 20th Century
    Collection * Title Translation: The brave students from first grade
  • El Museo de Historia Sobrenatural

    “El Museo de Historia Sobrenatural *”

    Date 2000
    Dimensions 20"x 26"
    Category Painting
    Medium Enamel and collage over Haitian painting
    Genre Contemporary
    Period 21st Century
    Collection * Title Translation: The Museum of Supernatural History
  • Niño Estúpido

    “Niño Estúpido *”

    Date 1995- 1996
    Dimensions 71"x 71 1/4"
    Category Painting
    Medium Oil, enamel, varnish and collage on canvas
    Genre Contemporary
    Period 20th Century
    Collection * Title Translation: Stupid child
  • El Solo Yo (Stigmata)
  • Dos en Uno
  • Pintura Voodoo
  • Todo fue un mal entendido (aparición errónea de Toño Bicicleta)
  • La Pesca Mágica
  • Se están acabando las navidades
  • ¿Qué es arte contemporáneo?
  • Los Valientes Alumnos de Primer Grado
  • El Museo de Historia Sobrenatural
  • Niño Estúpido

José Luis Vargas

San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1965

Biography Details

Painter, performance artist, teacher, community coordinator, radio producer. Vargas began his art studies at the Art Students League in Old San Juan (1982–84). He earned a BFA at the Pratt Institute in New York in 1988 and went on to study at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine (1991). He obtained his master’s degree in painting from the Royal College of Art in London in 1994. He also studied art education at Kensington and Chelsea College in London. He has given courses and workshops in art in Puerto Rico, New York, and England since 1988 and coordinated countless educational and cultural events that combine the visual arts with other modes of expression. Since 2000 he has become interested in radio production, which he has integrated into his community-action work. He works with other artists in a studio for artistic experimentation in Santurce, where he creates his character “The Saint of Santurce,” who takes part in a variety of public art events. His painting is distinguished by its heroic urban figures, its supernatural beings, and its sense of humor, as Vargas makes use of the language of comic strips a great deal in his work.

Artist Statement

"The choice of the supernatural in my work is a result of two things - first, I grew up and live in a country that has created many myths and collective symbols, and I rescue some of them as they are part of a personal and collective memory. The second, it creates a platform for people to project their belief system."

José Luis Vargas, 2006

Formation

Education

2000

  • Sound Art Course. Bienal de Radio de Latino América, Mexico City, México

1994

  • Special course in Arts in Education. Kensington and Chelsea College, London, England

1992-1994

  • Master of Painting. Royal College of Art, London, England

1991

  • Bachelor of Painting. Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, United States

1984-1988

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

1982-1984

  • Art Students League, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Professional Experience

2014

  • Boys and Girls Club, Loiza, Puerto Rico

2010-presente

  • Professor. Master in Cultural Management and Administration, Interdisciplinary Studies Program, Humanities Faculty, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, San Juan, Puerto Rico

n.d.

  • Iniciativa Comunitaria, San Juan, Puerto Rico

2006

  • Adjunct Professor. Distance Learning Graduate Program, Cambridge College, Puerto Rico
  • Coordinator. Arts and Communication Project, Production of Comics and Documentary about Homelessness, Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, San Juan, Puerto Rico

2005

  • Resident Artist. Juvenile Comic Project, Dr. José N. Gándara Intermediate School, Río Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Individual Mandalas Workshops. Hogar Compromiso de Vida, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Professor of art and communications. Instituto Psicopedagógico de Puerto Rico, Bayamon, Puerto Rico

2004

  • Lecturer. Children and Youth from Puerto Rico discover Radio, World Health Congress, Melbourne, Australia 

2002

  • Director and Coordinator. Multidisciplinary Creative Summer Camp "Arte y Arena", San Juan, Puerto Rico

2001

  • Set designer. Theatrical production " Tres por Tres por Tres ", Universidad de Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus, Humacao, Puerto Rico; Teatro Yerba Bruja, Río Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Set designer. "El Espejo de la Reina", Taller Lírico, Escuela Libre de Música, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Teatro Braulio Castillo, Bayamón, Puerto Rico

1997-2003

  • Art Professor. Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico            
  • Visionary Art Professor. Art Students League, San Juan, Puerto Rico

1997   

  • Professor and visiting artist. Brighton University, Brighton, England
  • Performance Workshop Instructor. Brighton University, Brighton, England

1995  

  • Curator. "Rituales Secretos, Altares Personales", 198 Gallery, London, England

1994   

  • Professor. Middlessex University,  London, England
  • Professor. Ruskin School, Oxford, England

1992  

  •  Lecture on Zen painting. Museum of Oxford, England

1991

  • Art workshop for youngsters. Grosvenor Neighborhood Center, New York, United States

1989

  • Summer painting workshop for children. Art Students League, San Juan, Puerto Rico

1988-1989    

  • Painting and drawing workshop for children. Centro Sor Isolina Ferré, Ponce, Puerto Rico

Exhibitions

Solo Shows

2014

  • Vidente desde niño, Antiguo Arsenal de la Marina Española, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Roberto Paradise, San Juan, Puerto Rico

2011

  • Prepárate pa lo que viene, La 15, Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico

2009

  • En algún lugar de la memoria, Museo de Arte de Caguas, Caguas, Puerto Rico

2006

  • Museo de Historia Sobrenatural, Art Students League, San Juan, Puerto Rico

2002

  • Salto desde la Tercera Cuerda,  Galería La Pintadera, San Juan, Puerto Rico

2001

  • Gandhi, King, Ikeda: Un Legado en la Construcción de la Paz, Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, San Juan; Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, San Juan; Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Ponce; Universidad Carlos Albizu, San Juan; Museo Fuerte Conde de Mirasol, Vieques, Puerto Rico

1998

  • Visitantes, Galería Botello, San Juan, Puerto Rico

1997

  • Is there an Alien base in Puerto Rico?, Phoenix Gallery, Brighton, England
  • Gutsch Gallery, Luzern, Switzerland

1994

  • Galería Botello, San Juan, Puerto Rico

1992

  • Museum of Oxford, England
  • Art Students League, San Juan, Puerto Rico

1990

  • Luigi Marrozzini Gallery, San Juan, Puerto Rico

1989

  • Luigi Marrozzini Gallery, San Juan, Puerto Rico

1988

  • Art Students League, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

1987

  • Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico

1986

  • Liga de Estudiantes de Arte, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Colectivas 

2014

  • Nada NY, Roberto Paradise, New York, United States

2013

  • Nada Miami, Roberto Paradise, Miami, Florida, United States

2007

  • Contexto puertorriqueño: del rococó colonial al arte global, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico

2005

  • El Museo de Historia Sobrenatural, Casa Cruz de la Luna, San Germán, Puerto Rico

2002

  • El Santo de Santurce, Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Las Aventuras del Santo De Santurce, Bienal de Radio, Mexico City, Mexico

1995

  • Secret Rituals, Personal Altars, 198 Gallery, London, England

1994

  • Galería Botello, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Out of the Nineties, Mall Galleries, London, England

1992

  • John Moore’s Exhibition, Liverpool, England

1990

  • Trasatlántica,Antiguo Arsenal de la Marina Española, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Vrej Baghoomian Gallery,New York, United States

1989

  • Chase Manhattan Bank, San Juan, Puerto Rico

1988

  • New Arrivals, MOCHA, New York, United States

1987

  • Trends, MOCHA, New York, United States
  • Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

Awards, Distinctions and Achievements

1992

  • Award. John Moore’s Exhibition, London, England

1991

  • Fellowship. Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, United States

1989

  • First Prize. Certamen de Arte Joven, Chase Manhattan Bank, San Juan, Puerto Rico

1988

  • First prize. Senior Show, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

1987

  • Grant. Charles A. Dana Student Foundation, New York, United States
  • Scholarship. Lorenzetti Travelling Scholarship, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

1985

  • Scholarship. Foundation Art Scholarship, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

Collections

  • Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Royal College of Art, Londres, Reino Unido  Royal College of Art, London, England

Bibliography

Catalogues

“En Algún lugar de tu memoria”, Museo de Arte de Caguas, Caguas, Puerto Rico, 2009.
“Jose Luis Vargas”, Liga de Estudiantes de Arte, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1992.
“Jose Luis Vargas”, Liga de Estudiantes de Arte, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1988.
“Jose Luis Vargas”, Luigi Marrozzini Gallery, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1989.
“Visitantes”, Galería Botello, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1998.
“Jose Luis Vargas”, Luigi Marrozzini Gallery, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1990.

Libros

Pérez Lizano, Manuel. “Pintura Actual de Puerto Rico: 1948-1989”. Universidad Central de Bayamón, Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Vol. 13, 1990.

Newspapers  

Rodríguez, Myrna. “A Promising Young Artist Exhibits”. The San Juan Star (San Juan, PR), 27 de julio de 1986, p. 8.
Rodríguez, Myrna. “Vargas Exhibit”. The San Juan Star (San Juan, PR), 13 de agosto de 1987, p. 13.
Rodríguez, Myrna. “Vargas’ Works Deserve Praise”. The San Juan Star (San Juan, PR), 21 de julio de 1988, p.13.
Rodríguez, Myrna. “Trasatlántica sheds light on a new generation of artists”. The San Juan Star (San Juan, PR), marzo 1990.
Pérez Lizano, Manuel. “Jose Luis Vargas: A Chosen One Facing the Future”. El Nuevo Día (San Juan, PR), 8 de Julio de 1988, p. 59.
Pérez Lizano, Manuel. “Jose Luis Vargas, Devorador de Imágenes”. El Nuevo Día (San Juan, PR), 8 de julio de 1988, p. 59.
Cherson, Samuel. “La Nueva y dinámica vanguardia en la plástica”. El Nuevo Día (San Juan, PR), 7 de abril de 1990, p. 78.