The world of Henry Vermillion—an opening

By Stanley Klein

I was uneasy as soon as I walked into the room. The way he looked at me, I had the feeling I was in trouble. In spite of the fact that he wore a Cardinal’s skullcap and collar, I still felt threatened. And the gang of characters surrounding him only heightened my uneasiness.

Opening of The World of Henry Vermillion
Sat, Jul 21, 8pm
Galería Vermillion
Plaza Colonial
Hernández Macías & Canal

I wasn’t in one of San Miguel’s late night bars on a dark street. In fact, I was standing in Henry Vermillion’s downtown gallery, getting familiar with a multitude of characters that have sprung from his mind and into his paintings.

Viewing Vermillion’s work is not like the usual visit to an art gallery. He has created a world of people that you won’t find in Harry’s Bar or in the Jardin —or wait a minute—maybe you will! He often draws on cocktail napkins in cafes when he is without a pad (as did Modigilani and Picasso), so you might eventually find yourself in one of his paintings. The artist has seen something in ordinary faces that most of us don’t see. And I think it’s more interesting to meet them here in his gallery than to actually have a drink with them in one of the local gin mills. No hangover this way, although some of these faces will certainly stay with you awhile.

Vermillion has created hundreds of characters in his paintings and drawings. He has been working as a painter in San Miguel since 1991, and as an artist for many years before that in Texas and North Carolina. Maturity has brought a quality to his work that makes you want to see everything he does; it’s like waiting for your favorite author to publish his or her next novel.

A continuing theme in Vermillion’s paintings is the potential evil of the combination of Church and State here in Mexico. One of his images shows a priest standing at close quarters with a most devious-looking man in a dark suit. The title of the picture is “The Priest and His Lawyer.” Another portrait drawing is called “God’s Rottweiler.” I know this face well. I have returned to the Vermillion Gallery several times in recent weeks to confirm that I have actually seen (and I want to say met) these people of power, these politicians, lawyers and religious leaders.

However, this is only one of several themes in the artist’s work. A new series of cloud paintings is strikingly original, and shows his keen interest in nature. His pastel landscapes are far removed from the political spectrum. They’re also a pleasant relief. This contrast and variety is what makes a visit to the Vermillion Gallery a special experience.

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