RAOUL "IGGY" RODRIGUEZ

House Artist

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.

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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.

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ARTIST'S WORKS

 
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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.

 
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HALLOWED BE THY NAME

Pen and ink, acrylic on canvas

 

In his work Hallowed Be Thy Name, Rodriguez utilises Christian iconography – a retablo (an altar piece) comprised of a triptych and one horizontal piece at the base. It is
a large-scale pen and ink on oil, on canvas, measuring about three meters in height by four meters wide.

The central panel portrays a bulging swine creature swinging on the back of a person whose suffering rests his position of power. His halo of bullets demand reverence through fear as worshippers perform an orgy of adoration. The centre panel is flanked by two other panels: illustrating devotees in grotesque cherubim form, placed as protectors of the realm. The base panel portrays bodies in limbo depicting oppression and sufferance. It is a critique of both the worshipped and the worshipper, and invites the viewer to discover both absurdities.

The artist’s intention is to create a discourse between his tableau of a politically charged theme – and the reverence of religious art of great prominence prevalent in Venice, including the grand setting of Palazzo Mora. It seeks to translate familiar religious imagery into a carnivalesque tableau, ironically, mimicking a familiar invitation to reverence commonly seen in religious art; it will evoke the same holiness and invitation to reverence of religious art prevalent in Venice, but the pen and ink medium will entice the audience to examine details more closely, revealing instead an orgy of the absurd and the grotesque. Historically, and of particular interest to exhibiting artists in Venice is that although the people of the city generally remained orthodox Roman Catholics, the state of Venice was notable for its freedom from religious fanaticism and executed no one for religious heresy during the Counter-Reformation, during the 12th-15th century. This apparent lack of zeal contributed to Venice’s frequent conflicts with the Papacy. It could therefore be considered a privilege to be in Venice and know that one could not be in a more congrous setting to exhibit Rodriguez’s works.

Hallowed Be Thy Name questions the implications of politics, as well as the relevance of religion and history today – and the role it plays in our contemporary lives. It addresses the world audience, its changing value system, and the prevalence of power and brutality today. Ultimately, Iggy’s intention is to invite close examination to the painstaking detail of the pen and ink medium, revealing a sordid world of orgies of the absurd, greed and the grotesque – whilst perhaps reflecting our own conscionable place within that world.

 
 

ARTIST'S PAST EXHIBITIONS

 
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HALLOWED BE THY NAME

May 9, 2019

Solo Exhibition
Palazzo Mora
during 58th Venice Biennale

 

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All reproductions courtesy of the artist and Artesan Gallery & Studio
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