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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Jamie Rodriguez at the ACCR

Totenkopf, Die Werbung, The Invisible Enemy - installation by Jamie Rodriguez
Jamie Rodriguez is one of the more interesting artists to have emerged on the local scene in the last decade or so, and his current solo exhibition at The Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy is a well-earned showcase of his latest work.

A frequent prize winner in the annual Mohawk-Hudson Regional, Rodriguez has distinguished himself with challenging, multilayered installations that combine painting, drawing, and sculpture, often to a confounding effect, and this show, entitled Warenfetischismus: Commodity Fetishism is no exception.

Montserrat Landscape #1
oil paint on canvas 2019
I noticed from the first time I saw his work that Rodriguez is a very skillful painter, and this exhibition showcases that aspect of his art by featuring 15 oils on canvas, most of them sun-washed landscapes in an Impressionist style that clearly evokes Cezanne and Van Gogh. The four large mixed-media installations that comprise the remainder of the show all incorporate similarly executed paintings, a stylistic innovation I don’t recall having seen employed by any other artist.

So, labels aside, Rodriguez is a creator who ably applies whatever materials he needs to make his statements – and those statements are ambitious, on a global scale. These installations evoke international politics, with references to Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China and capitalist America; environmental issues, including water shortage, habitat loss, and pollution; economic matters such as the commodification of food; religion, via icons and altars; and historical references in the form of architectural elements, decorative tilework, and weaponry.

Argumentum ad baculum, (Fact Check:
To The unhinged and useful idiots, the
Revolution has been canceled as part of
culture, No Justice, No Peace for Wendy's,
The Rubicon has been crossed) -
(detail view of installation)
The last item is perhaps the crux of this work, which openly concerns itself with war and conquest. But the naturalistic concerns are also central, as Rodriguez deploys multiple animal figures - foxes, lambs, raccoons, and various rodents among them - as avatars. His statement accompanying the show offers clear insights into his intentions, while welcoming viewers to make their own interpretations of the work. In part, it says: These narratives can draw attention to many different topics, that can be interpreted in any way the viewer connects … I want to evoke emotion and awareness of the individual to confront the issue of how art functions within a particular set of social and cultural patterns, historical perspectives, and belief/faith systems, while maintaining a sense of humor and humility.

That’s a lot to pack into any work of art, and Rodriguez gives it a good shot. My overriding response to this show is that it has a potent sense of urgency. The sprawling, highly detailed tableaux incorporate a great many carefully constructed elements, which undoubtedly have taken a lot of time to create, yet they still feel improvised, even slapdash in a way, as though the artist feels too pressed to add even the slightest extra bit of finish to his product. Only the paintings appear polished, serving as a counterpoint to the roughly representational sculptures into which they are integrated.

It’s enough to make you breathless.

Warenfetischismus: Commodity Fetishism - Artworks by Jamie Rodriguez will remain on view through April 16.

Polarity Integration: The Universal Game, Zwischenzug, Spiritual Algorithm, end game-"Transcension", Think, Think Tank? Paradigm Shifts
mixed-media installation by Jamie Rodriguez, 2021

1 comment:

John Rowen said...

David: Thanks for sharing. This is clearly a unique artist.