Huffpost Arts

Painter Victor Rodriguez On 'Black Dodecahedron' And Why Photorealism Is Boring (PHOTOS, INTERVIEW)

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We know there are few things our HuffPost Arts & Culture readers love more than a good photorealistic painting. We don't blame you; we're fans of the human hand winning over technology, too. It is in this spirit we bring you hyper-detailed work of Victor Rodriguez, but be warned, he is no photorealist.

In "Black Dodecahedron," Rodriguez paints his ex-wife in a variety of poses, outfits and moods. Rodriguez's dedication to both his craft and his model is palpable in the works, with memories that although not totally accurate are sharp, clear and haunting as can be. We were instantly obsessed with this creative manipulation of a genre that doesn't allow much wiggle room, and thus asked Rodriguez more about his upcoming show. Scroll down for a slideshow.

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HP: What is the significance of the exhibition's title?

VR: It's the title of one of the paintings included in the show and it refers to a very small detail in it: a black geometric earring which in a Proustian way starts peeling away a lot of onion skin-like memories. It also works because of the platonic geometric figure that in its infinity very much reflects the obsession with which these works -- and my work in general -- were made.

HP: Your paintings are insanely detailed. How long does the process take and is there a certain part (body part or otherwise) that you dread the most?

VR: Some of the photographs I use as reference are 10 yrs old or more, but my favorite -- and more accurate -- answer to that question is "42 years" (which is my age).

As for the certain part I dread to do...well, sometimes fingers are boring.

HP: Who is the woman in these paintings, and are the images connected by a narrative?

VR: Even though I have used very few models in the last 20 years the one featured the most and in this show the only one is my ex-wife Maité. After 10 years of not working together I asked for her help which proved a wise move professionally...although personally it took a toll. The autobiographical element is unavoidable in any work of art, but in the end the work justifies all, I hope.

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HP: What do you think about the claim that photorealistic paintings are challenging visually but not as much conceptually?

VR: That is true. I believe the only thing more boring than seeing a photorealistic painting is making one. And it is so because most photorealism is an end in itself -- it's only about how it's done. Once you get over the "mesmerizing technique" there's an empty void. Which is exactly what original photorealists wanted, by the way.

I don't consider what I do photorealism by any means, it's too imperfect, and besides it's not my point -- what I do is try to use photoderived imagery as a pictorial language.

The "conceptually challenging" charge maybe because of the conditioned reaction that as consumers of art we have trying to find a complex explanation as a condition for serious or important art; I think that a work of art should be universal in that sense, each viewer constructing his/her own explanation -- which is always much more interesting than the original artist's intention, at least it is for sure in my case. My generation in Mexico is made of very good artists mostly followers of Gabriel Orozco but I've always thought painting can be as simple or as conceptually complex as the yogurt caps or anything else.

HP: What artists inspire you?

VR: It depends, there are cycles. But for this particular show Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Bridget Riley, Ellsworth Kelly, Edouard Manet, Pink Floyd and overall Constantin Brancusi were present in the ride, at the risk of sounding pretentious.

Black Dodecahedron will show at the Ramis Barquet Gallery in New York from September 6th until October 5, 2012.

See a slideshow of the work below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Victor Rodriguez
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