The present exhibition, entitled “Anatomia de la Melancolia”, features the recent collage works by artist Javier Rodriguez (1975).
Rodriguez, who currently works between London and Berlin, was trained at the Federico Brandt Art School, Caracas. He furthered his artistic research with complementary studies in London and also by working as an assistant to established artists in Tel-Aviv and New York. Combined with his passionate creativity and dexterity, this experience helped produce a very personal and attractive series of works. The selection of pieces for this exhibition is an example of the meticulousness and intricately detailed work that collage demands as a technique.
The title of the series “Anatomia de la Melancolia” comes directly from the celebrated book The Anatomy of Melancholy, published in 1621 by Robert Burton (1577-1640), and of which Rodriguez confesses to being a true admirer.
Although the ideas which emerge from the book concerning death, religion, depression and, of course, melancholy provide the philosophical origins of the artist’s interpretation, the referential trajectory is not a linear one. His aim is not to create of an iconography to go with the text, as the search intends to go further afield. The book is the starting point in this process which acts as a catalyst for the artist to explore countless personal reflections and then to satisfy his basic need for expression by giving shape to these thoughts using a very individual technique.
The approach to the “book-object” is a broad one and is not just about using it to extract ideas. Rather, it signals a fundamental and deep admiration for the illustrated plates therein. Collecting antique books is a parallel activity that forms an intrinsic part of Rodriguez’s creative process. He acquires the raw material for his work from a selection of late 19th century and early 20th century books, thus appropriating an ample set of visual references re-presented as an individual discourse.
In contrast to working with pigments, collage should be interpreted in a different way. With collage, material is not put onto a canvas with the sweep of a hand, but is the product of a patient selection of images, their arrangement and puzzling enssamblage. By adding and subtracting pre-existing images, these are decontextualised and redefined in a playful game, which bears as its fruit an innovative imaginary.
The ludic action of dismembering, dismantling, to then re-organize and assemble is repeated in the creative process, but as the artist himself comments: “My work does not limit itself to the extraction of images per se; another fundamental aspect of it is to draw out texts and combined philosophical formulas”.
Form and content arranged with scalpel and glue. Devoid of color and paralyzed in time, the images enter into a dialogue with the viewer who searches meticulously trying to trace those immortalized characters from a classical palette while others turn in vain to the distant art history lessons. However, such a forcing of the memory is a resource that remits us to another time, to other strata.
Satisfaction and uneasiness are entangled in a single moment, and after gazing at the artworks we feel that something is missing, that something has been dislodged without us noticing. The aesthetic experience becomes almost profane and sacred at the same time: what were once the eyes of a saint are today part of an image of dementia and anguish.
It is no coincidence that Rodriguez reminds us of Nietzsche (1844-1900) through the figure of the madman, who, with a lantern in his hand, announces how responsible we are for the death of god. Like the madman, the artist simply presents us with the “Divine Putrefaction”, but not in a sacrilegious manner since the works are reminiscent of those “rites of atonement” so essential for absolving our guilt.
So let’s look in these mirrors and allow our bodies to focus for a moment on black bile and to appreciate unrepentantly a fragment of that vague sadness called Melancholy.
"Birth of Venus" (diptych)
Collage on paper. 2007. 32cm x 22cm (each)
"By this one passion is my mind consumed"
Collage on paper. 2007. 60cm x 48 cm
"The stranger within" collage on paper. 2007. 60cm x 48cm
"Philautia" Collage on paper 2007. 60cm x 48cm
"Folia Moralis" Collage on paper. 2007. 45cm x 22cm
"Concupiscible Apettite" Collage on paper. 2007. 34cm x 25cm
"Remorse" Collage on paper. 2007. 25cm x 19cm
"Love Enduring Beyond Death"
Collage on board. 2007. 32cm x 23cm
"Morimur" Collage on board. 2007. 35cm x 28cm (each)
"La Mort de Dieu" collage on paper. 2007. 30cm x 20cm
"Irresolution" Collage on paper. 2007. 49cm x 35cm
"Splendid Torment" Collage on paper. 2007. 35cm x 24cm
"slain" Collage on paper. 2007. 45cm x 35 cm
"On Rupture of the Heart from Mental Emotion"
Collage on board. 2007. 50cm x 38cm
"Nietzsche's Madman" Silkscreen on paper. 2008. 100cm x 70cm
"Recurrence" Mural. Collage,paper-cuts. 300cm x 150cm aprox 2008
Posted by javier rodriguez