Rabu, 26 November 2008

Of Delicate Pride - Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada

The Wooster Collective published an interview with Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada. The answers to the following three questions are a brilliant introduction to his work. (My favorite, of course, is the third answer.)

Wooster: What other artists do you most admire?

I admire artists from different periods because of how they have impacted me at different times in my life. Leonardo da Vinci, Jean Giraud, Marcel Duchamp, John Heartfield, Ana Mendieta, Chris Burden, Barbara Kruger, Mark Pauline, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer are each a little part of me as an artist. With my contemporaries I would have to say that Swoon, Blu, and Marc Jenkins have impressed me not only with what they say with what they create, but also because of who they are as people.

Wooster: How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?

My art is usually found within the urban landscape. City textures are my favorite background for my work. I like to work with ephemeral materials. One of my directions is to create large charcoal portraits of anonymous people on inner city walls that fade away with the wind and rain.

Wooster: What other talent would most like to have?

If I had another lifetime to devote to something else I would probably be an archeologist.


There is one thing about these portraits from the Identity Series I find awe-inspiring. They are modest. They bring forward the anonymous faces in a way that inspires both empathy and awe. They put them forward, fighting the war with commercial works as well as any. And yet, they are not shining at us with attractive colors. Their truthfulness is more than honest. It is humble. And yet - proud. And one more crucial thing: these faces, they fade away with time. This rare combination of grandiosity and modesty is something truly impressive.

Which brings us to Rodriguez-Gerada's latest project, the one most of us came to know him for.
He is the author of a huge portrait of Barack Obama (although actually the work is still not finished). But I think this has received enough publicity already. Appropriately enough, the work will be called Expectations, and is yesterday's news even before it inaugurated. Which tells us as much about the reception of directly political art as about the work itself. (On the other hand, this expectation is also about preparing the desinchantment, isn't it?)

Two documentaries about Rodriguez-Gerada's work in Spain:

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