By Barbara Morris
GLITTER? THOSE ENCOUNTERING the paintings of Jamie Vasta in her new show After Caravaggio will find, rather rapidly, the works defy preconceptions about the medium of glitter and the playful associations one might conjure up - from Ke$ha to glue wielding tots, to drag queens. Vasta, a Bay Area-based artist, has been painting in glitter for ten years now. Her works grapple withcomplex, serious, even morbid subjects of sex and power, which are often filtered through a literary lens of re-imagined myths and dark, feminist reworkings of fairy tales.
Earlier bodies of work highlighted young girls stalking and butchering men who intruded on their mysterious wooded lair.
In honor of the 400th anniversary of his death last year, Vasta chose to undertake a series of works inspired by one of her favorite artists, Caravaggio. Sticking to her working process of
using friends and associates as models, Vasta mirrors Caravaggio's practice of using common people — in his case, fellow artists, friends and prostitutes — to portray angels, saints, Jesus and the Virgin. Vasta's subjects often replicate the gesture of Caravaggio's, but the artist regards the composition of the original more as a suggestion than a template. Not surprisingly,Vasta recasts her crew in roles irrespective of gender, a solution that Caravaggio, with androgynous models and sexual ambiguity deeply interwoven into his oeuvre, would certainly have applauded.