Emerging Venezuelan artist José García Oliva has been chosen by the public as the winner of the VIA Arts Prize People’s Choice Award with his mixed media assemblage Parallel, touching on emigration and the Venezuelan exodus. Image credit: José García Oliva_Parallel
Parallel is based on an aesthetic of journalistic printing, both in its tone and in the noise of the image. The artist collected photographs from the Venezuelan exodus reported in 2019 which, together, form the final image. The result is a life size composition where the individual’s faces are replaced with mirrors, seeking to confront the spectator with the emigrant, resulting in unwitting participation within the artwork.
The aim is to open an empathic door, inspired by Eduardo Galeano’s book entitled Mirrors. Stories of Almost Everyone. Uruguayan journalist, Galeano, stated in his essay Los emigrantes, ahora his great admiration for journalistic photography and Oliva visually quotes Galeano’s observations on emigration, his notes on the refugee, his courage to face realities that have evaded us, all extrapolated in the current context of Venezuela.
José García Oliva is currently studying at the Royal College of Art, London. The artist previously studied Fine Art at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, graduating with honours. Oliva’s work has been exhibited in both London and Madrid at Exposed Arts Project, Courtyard Gallery, Walmer Yard Cultural Centre, Dyson Gallery and Arlington House, among others.
The VIA Arts Prize is an annual award in London, hosted by the Embassy of Brazil that seeks to deepen cultural awareness of Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese arts and cultures in the UK. The Prize is open to all artists living in the UK, of any nationality, to submit an original artwork specifically inspired by Ibero-American arts and culture. The People’s Choice Award is granted to the public’s favourite artwork, visitors voted in situ at the exhibition of this year’s shortlisted artworks at the Embassy of Brazil.