RAOUL "IGGY" RODRIGUEZ
Filipino artist Raoul "Iggy" Rodriguez has continually responded to a tradition of Social Realism and politically-engaged practice in Philippine art. He spent the mid-1990s as a member of UGAT Lahi, an artist collective making works for street and public protests in Manila. By the mid-2000s, Rodriguez’s individual work in painting, drawing and installation started to explore the iconography of oppression and sufferance: centering on the image of the body as an emblem for alienation, a staging ground and aftermath for struggles both material and existential.
The artist is concerned with the condition and relations of man, and extends his inquiries to the ways by which man interacts with, exploits and utilizes his environment. The themes he tackles is as complex as the multiple intricate drawings he has produced. Rodriguez employs travesty and satire as an approach to subvert and upset the existing dominant framework that breeds disenfranchisement and social dislocation. He is currently planning on conceiving several large scale works using his favorite medium, pen and ink on canvas and broaden his output to creating sculptures and installations.
Raoul Ignacio (Iggy) M. Rodriguez (b. 1974) received the Grand Prize in Pen and Ink Drawing category of the Art Association of the Philippines Annual Competition in 2001 and the Thirteen Artists Award of the Cultural Centre of the Philippines in 2009. He was among the members of the Ugnayan at Galian ng mag Tanod ng Lahi or UGAT Lahi (f. 1992), a collective of progressive artists based in Manila known for producing effigies and street murals,
from 1999 to 2009.
Rodriguez first exhibited in Singapore in 2008, as part of an artist exchange program organised by Artesan with the National University of Singapore Museum. He held his first one-man exhibition, titled Kimi/Imik, the year after in the Philippines and has since then shown his work in group exhibitions in China, Singapore, Italy, Cambodia, England, Malaysia, and South Korea.
REALM OF PERPETUAL SIGHS
Pen and ink, acrylic on canvas
We are indeed living during extraordinary times - and the creative mind is not spared from its peculiarities. In fact, solitude seems to behoove many artists as the intensity of introspection is amplified during isolation. Even then, Iggy transcends expectations.
As part of a series from Rodriguez’s Somewhere Lush and Grey collection (simultaneously showing in Manila), we behold figurative expressionism at its best.
A small congregation depicted with images of veiled heads, adornment, and embellishment provokes feelings of insignificance and ambiguity as they pose rigid in their excess, inert, contradicting the impression of opulence and great joy. Suggested by a formation that is enveloped, almost over weighed in festoons of wonderfully scented roses, the group is synchronously betrayed by an invasion of brambles and deadly thorns - an allegory created by Rodriguez, of deception after the seduction, the promises and the flattery, fabricated by a regime of ignorance and disorder.
Amidst all, the figures are also portrayed as disintegrating like glitches on a screen - alluding to fragmentation as they slowly shed off their abundance, transmitting geometric accents as if we expect them to slowly vanish and evaporate. Realm of Perpetual Sighs portrays humanity’s soul fragmentation brought about by containment, isolation, fear, self-realization, and lack of freedom.
Perhaps by shedding all the frills and excess, there is a spark of hope as our true selves might still survive, emerge as our better versions, in a better world.
HALLOWED BE THY NAME
Pen and ink, acrylic on canvas