By: CARLOS SUAREZ DE JESUS,
Independent Art Critic, January 2017
Beyond the Oedipal Complex to Umbilical Discord
Reflections Upon Life with My Mother and Muse
An attempt to pigeonhole the art of George Rodez is an abject exercise in intellectual bankruptcy.
Unlike an artist who toils slavishly to achieve a singular style, Rodez is a rare talent whose forte lies in the diverse imagery he creates.
Now 59, and still at work on the multiple series for which he has become known, Rodez challenges viewers with his hallucinatory figures, arresting symbolism and snippets of text that wheel between genres and attention commanding styles.
Encountering the Cuban-American’s work for the first time what springs to mind is the illusion one is experiencing a group show resulting from many different hands.
Rather instead what the viewer is seeing is the uninhibited reach of an inherently self-aware and insatiably curious mind. This painter is an explorer par excellence of subconscious realms.
It’s a gift born from a complex, multi-layered relationship with his mother that has taken Rodez a lifetime to hone.
“For as far back as I can remember, my mother always suffered and struggled with mental illness,” recollects Rodez who likens growing up under these circumstances to the hyper surreal or being swallowed by “Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole”.
The dynamics of their relationship left an indelible impression on Rodez marking his approach to creating art.
Throughout her lifetime Caridad Rodriguez wrestled with acute schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder, more commonly known as multiple or split personalities.
As a teenager she actively engaged in ballet and fencing. Ironically, both skills would foreshadow a pattern for pirouetting into disparate roles while skirmishing to parry off the demons tormenting her.
For the profoundly observant Rodez, his mother’s efforts to cope with her incapacitating condition would also provide the template to explore our existential condition.
“I wanted to take all these different shifts in her psyche and use the energy I observed in her characters to interpret and incorporate them into each individual style of art I currently work with,” informs Rodez who admits engaging in his own version of an identity shuffle during the creative process.
“I won’t deny that she left a definite mark in my life, but I have made a conscious decision to taking the negative and turning it into a positive in a metaphorical way even though I do have issues that I struggle with on a daily basis as a human being,” Rodez observes.
Although Rodez asserts that he fully enjoys his Afro-Caribbean Series which explores his roots or the Elements and Values suite trough which he contrasts notions of order and chaos, it his work interpreting dreams that delivers a blow to the solar plexus.
The resulting imagery of his Dream canvasses can be described as surrealistic, Jungian or even Bunuelian.
At once exuberant and Felliniesque in their lurid nature they depict grim and somber scenes reflecting a veritable catalogue of our worst fears, flailing emotions and wildest obsessions.
Despite an underlying sense of whimsy and innocence that seeps through his compositions, the notion of the adolescent artist attempting to heal himself by curing his mother is almost palpable and heart-piercing.
“I sometimes feel that our minds aren’t yet ready to handle some our own personal truths so it attempts to send us a camouflaged message through our dreams to help us accept what is being presented before us as an internal movie which can later help us solve the puzzles,” reflects Rodez.
Stage-like and almost theatrical in appearance the rooms and hallways Rodez depicts evoke the fun-house mirrors of the mind with walls leaning everywhere at crazy angles for no apparent reason.
Some paintings reveal menacing hopscotch games in abandoned fields while others feature a judge’s gavel, a floating syringe, disembodied heads or an empty grave.
Rodez also employs text with labyrinthine intricacy to trigger associations, thoughts, and memories within the viewer he says.
“I have a tendency to take phrases, sentences, quotes, or even personal observations and put excerpts or certain words from them into some of my paintings,” mentions Rodez.
“While some of these may be self-referential, I also draw from movies, books, songs, church hymns, quotes, or anything that strikes a definite chord in my subconscious mind since I am very aware of its existence,” the artist adds.
“I consider dreams to be a gift. A gift that helps us understand our minds,” concludes Rodez.