Cooke Latham Gallery, a new space for contemporary art located in a 19th-century warehouse in London's Battersea, launched on 6 December with the first UK solo exhibition of Chilean artist Francisco Rodríguez entitled The Burning Plain. An accompanying text by Christian Viveros-Fauné is available here.
Set over twenty-four hours, the sun rises over The Burning Plain to reveal a cast of sinister characters emerging from the shadows. Oscillating between expansive landscapes and smaller portraits and details, the exhibition is unified in its limited colour palette and by the motifs repeated through the paintings. Populated by wild dogs, fir-trees, and figures skulking along the fence line, the compositions are loaded with anticipated action. Each piece is both self-contained and integral to the installation as a whole, a fragment of a storyline that is implied but never realised.
In constructing such potent tableaux, Rodríguez explores the ability of painting to articulate memory and the imagination. His visual language references that of film and comics, creating a storyboard of compositions and inviting the viewer to explore the potential narrative links between them. In doing so the audience is rendered complicit, both participant and outsider, insomniac voyeur awaiting the next act.
New York-based Chilean curator and critic Christian Viveros-Fauné has responded to The Burning Plain with a specially conceived exhibition text, in this he writes, "Like a strange dream, a great song or a blurred memory, Rodríguez's pictures describe inner states of consciousness-ones that are recalled less as fact than as emotion."
Francisco Rodríguez graduated with an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Arts in 2018. He has since had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago and has appeared in numerous group shows in the UK and overseas. The artist was included Bloomberg New Contemporaries, which launched at the Liverpool Biennial in July 2018 and travelled to the South London Gallery in December.