Francisco Rodriguez 'Utopías y Desvelos' Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC), Santiago July - October 2018

Text by Michael Armitage


Painting by its very nature is mute. No words, no sounds- just colour, form, texture and line yet the history of painting is full of narrative and story telling. This is where Francisco Rodriguez joins a long blood line of painters, a mute story teller using images and colour to evoke moments of nostalgia, of violence and of contemplation. Multiple narratives often play out across a single painting in the format of a comic book strip or a Japanese woodblock print where several panels within the painting introduce you to characters and a scene. The characters are archetypes and the scenes have an anonymous quality to them, a fence, a watch tower, a wall, these are areas that are like so many industrial parts of city’s around the world. Areas that could only have an identity if you lived in them, if you knew the black dogs that scavenge the yard as the sun sets, if you knew the graffiti on the brick wall as you walked to the convenience store. In the drawings a more whimsical manner creates humorous moments of formal pleasure- a snake, drawn in the most rudimentary way forms an S shape coiling around a page, then the snake becomes a river and then it becomes a rope and finally back to an S. Once again the protagonist is an archetype, the drawing of a snake becomes a stand in for a snake, and like in memory and in comic strips you are given just enough of an image to animate the scene. Rodriguez remembers sitting at the family dinner table and hearing conversations between his parents friends of more troubled times. Stories that have lived in his imagination and memory ever since. It is through these paintings that you can join him at the table of his youth and follow the stories that these paintings tell.

July 31, 2018