Andrés Vargas is a photographer based in Guatemala City. He recently has shown in Antítesis Gallery (Panamá City), No Place Gallery (US) and at the XXI Bienal de Arte Paiz (Guatemala City). His work often portrays common and forgotten scenarios with seeming lack of significance.
It was in college, after attending a few darkroom classes, that Andrés Vargas first got in contact with photography. He might not have known it then, but it would soon become the medium that proved to have the necessary qualities to portray the ever-changing urbanscape he finds in Guatemala City, “It’s like you are always two steps behind”. His body of work, a selection of which we share here today, has been taken in different places of the Guatemalan territory. “I am interested in the ideas of progress and the effects of history and violence in these territories, and how this leads to a physical and psychological bleakness, all this taking place in a scenario of great natural exuberance. Taken over 6 years, these photographs record a personal view of the transitions and struggle of the people and the landscape”.
These struggles and hardships, as well as the raw beauty of the nature and landscape, he often portrays through very closed up compositions, entirely suppressing the context. It is in these detailed compositions that, he believes, the intricacies and the “quirky and idiosyncratic nature” of the context is more evident.
Vargas does not describe himself as a documentary photographer. “There’s definitely a portrayal of the complexities of my environment, but it’s more about a personal quest to find the underlying beauty of this reality”. Due to the premeditated nature of his process, the work often takes him to places that are difficult to access, especially for a photographer looking to reach further than the surfacing issues. “There are many factors related to violence and insecurity that make the work of a photographer difficult around here, mostly because the intentions of a person with a camera are often questioned”.
2020 will see him working in his first studio in Guatemala City, editing and scanning old work. He also plans to publish a book of portraits later this year, which we cannot wait to see!
To view more of Andrés Vargas’s work please visit his website.