“Once Upon a Time,” the famous starting line of every fable and fairy tale: that is the title of Jorge Rodríguez Diez’s personal exhibition at Casa 8 Gallery, in Vedado.
Since R10 –the name he uses in the world of art and design– expanded his role as visual artist and burst into Havana’s exhibition scene, it was obvious that the subject of his creation was intended to be part of the contemporary debate of social, political and even economical and psychological nature.
Nevertheless, R10 is not what we would call a social chronicler. In his artworks we do not find any explicit representation of actual facts, even though we always feel in some way the need of facing his creations to present times, and understanding them through a critical dialogue with “the context,” and not only the national one.
In his most recent series, which is showed in this exhibition, it is not difficult to recognize that the artworks are inspired in a historical event of great importance. R10, as he always does, makes up hypothetic situations nourished by a strong historical background. The artist plays with social imagination, the expectations created by the news, the information coming from the mass media, the iconography that becomes famous in the screens of TV sets and computers, and even with other kind of iconography, images of all kinds that he rescues from old magazines. All of it becomes the raw material with which he makes his visual artworks of precious design, which are really stimulating to awake our interpretative concerns. In some of his artworks the symbology of color has paramount importance, since some colors allude to very specific political and social ideas.
Another striking resource, which has become a sort of identity mark of R10’s work, is the use of witty and laconic phrases, which give an explosive critical mischievousness to the ambiguity that is inherent of the images. Those questions and statements that flutter around his creativity, since they are the conspiratorial interlocutors of the characters and their historical vicissitudes, give the tone of the discourse, of questioning, irony, and above all, humor, which characterizes the whole series.
Humor is another distinctive feature of the kind of art that R10 creates. The relationship that it is set among the phrases and the images usually generates a sarcastic, spicy, subversive effect that the spectator enjoys as an accomplice. That is the case of the artwork in which the main character is a young girl that looks shyly at our eyes. Her hair is red and so are her little lips, and she is wearing bedclothes: a red pajama with little white stars, and a white blouse with little red stars. Next to her face there is a question: Cute enough?
Anyway, this new exhibition by R10 will be attractive enough to those who enjoy irreverent and questioning art; besides, this is a kind of art that does not give up to visual beauty, to the excellence of shapes, but this is a beauty full of ideas, of historical content, as there is no other way of being beautiful in the field of art.
–Dr. Hamlet Fernández