"Figuration is an important tool"

In the first of two blogposts dedicated to Darvin Rodríguez in his own words, we learned of his determination to create difference rather than decoration. That the capacity to be creator of change is inherent in art.

To this end he implements figuration. Not figuration in a calming sense of the recognizable, but a figuration constantly experimented with and taken to its limits. The latter even literally so when the limbs of the worker are barely able to stick together. Seams bursting, where mending have been attempted, fabric erupting into threads revealing the nothingness beyond. And right there in the bursting and the revealing an understanding is jump-started of the slavery of the working conditions.

Below Darvin Rodríguez explains how he choses specific techniques for the specific work. In Personajes de Acción his figures transgresses the comic album frames into which they have been drawn, exemplifying how they as art are confronting us on how our world is organized. Their intention has been taken a step further in his newest work in which the machete is being drawn and lashed out directly at us. Note how the red line is running all through the height of the wall within our  own sphere. We are met with a direct gaze for the first time, while The Reaper in the embodiment of The Undoer is severing himself from the ground, paint running in the trail of his movement of the color and thinning texture of actual blood. Seeing this, I for one cannot wait to see what Darvin Rodríguez will be doing next:


Darvin Rodríguez, detail of the left knee from Carga/Loading
from the series Personajes en Acción, 2014.

In the exhibition "Personajes en Acción" [Personalities in action] I am addressing, how the discourse in comics is very strong, about its expressionist graphics, how it is very seductive, and you can also create an attack with a discourse that lie close to or in line with the national problem. The themes I am focusing on are very idyllic ones, which characterize kitsch-art (cute, graceful, sweet, sympathetic, etc.), where you see people carrying firewood or the like, but which reduces them to something purely observed as objects that have been deprived of their consciousness, their eligibility as persons. If I show working, skinny and sweating people with holes in their clothes, then it is not to arouse pity, but to give them dignity, to honor them, to promote that liberating anger within the people, which I want to awaken.

Darvin Rodríguez, detail of the right knee from Carga/Loading
from the series Personajes en Acción, 2014.

More often than not the Honduran worker takes on upon him the role of a worker, not because he wishes to, but because there is no other alternative; there is no choice and then you take the work that is there and then you have to count on not being able to develop yourself, there is no opportunity to work with yourself as you wish to. You are giving your all, body and soul, but there is no option but to work, and that is ultimately slavery.
Darvin Rodríguez, Odyssey, an experimental derivate 
of the series Personajes en Accíon, 2014.

The figurative tradition in Honduras has been largely limited to creating something decorative of nature. I have taken upon me the task to save figuration, which is an important tool because it is more palatable to people, and you can convey many things through figuration.

Some of my close colleagues believe in my work, although there are those who say that figuration no longer works; they find it is a very distorted perception, or that they suddenly, because they make modern art, do performance or work in mixed media, become hesitant, since they find it very traditional, but I believe that an artist can make art out of a piece of coal as well as from something digital, interactive, as they say. Making video art does not imply that it is a piece of contemporary art in itself, that it is up to speed; you can make art with that piece of coal too. The material, technique, style or theme of is not the problem, but how you to deal with the components in pursuance of structuring an idea.

Darvin Rodríguez, Desatadura/Undoing, 2015.
Regarding the public my application of figuration has been very strategic, because I apply the standards used for advertising, in comic books, or making next to photographic paintings, because people are more accustomed to recognizing the things that they best identify with, and this is where we have figuration. When people see my works, I seduce them visually, and they like it. It is not just a means to attract them to art, but to make them discover that there is something more to it, a discourse, that I have a message I wish to convey, and that that is the main thing.

Darvin Rodríguez, Desatadura/Undoing, 2015.
I was part of an artist collective called "El Círculo". It was formed by a group of young students, who studied art theory, the 20th century avant-garde on the rhetoric of painting, which is very important to study at the art academy. The book "Retórica de la Pintura" [The Rhetoric of the art of painting] was almost like a Bible to us, in that there you will find metaphors, metonymy, synecdoche, irony, but when you use the terms to people at the school, to the teachers, they criticized us and said that we did not speak Spanish. In my works there are always irony, metaphor and comparison. When you know that the anatomy is textual, you can better combine the individual joints, organs, and then know how best to build the discourse, know when to use irony, when to use synecdoche, metonymy, metaphor; so it is necessary first to be conscious of all of these processes, and then transfer them to the visual discourse.

I do not have a linear perception, a form, a style or a color; it is fluctuating; each work has something different. With the theme of the workers I seek first and foremost to honor the comic genre, because it has been regarded as something for the immature, the childish people, who are only playing and have it as a hobby. I think that comics can be applied to tell many interesting things, so it should be cultivated.

The degenerative "heritage" of making easily sold decorative paintings is passed on from generation to generation, and it continues to grow and then you think that if you are good at painting a flower you are an artist, and this is not so. You can be good at painting or drawing, but the main thing is creation, how to express your reality through art so that it turns into a new language; that the graphic arts become a new way of writing.

So I would say to the young artists that they should not follow the pattern of making easy money, that they need to understand that it is not art, and that they must work toward a more dignified and noble art in that the purpose of art is to nourish the population, to awaken it.

The artworks shown are courtesy of Darvin Rodríguez and must not be reproduced without his permission. A very special thank you to Ulandssekretariatet for their kind permission to feature the interview.

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