Exhibition CAAM - Los Balcones 11. Planta 1
Since 6 March 2015 to 7 June 2015
Arnaldo Roche Rabell might well be one of the last artists in the Latin American context to understand those relationships of proximity and distancing when it comes to how ‘great painting’ is made, our relationship with it being thought in the light of Baroque painting as defined by the master Eugenio D´Ors, that is, as a contemplative relationship of reciprocal shortsightedness and long-sightedness. Born in Puerto Rico, though educated in Chicago, where he studied and lived for many years, artist Arnaldo Roche, due to his off-centre position –since he was not in New York,nor in California or Miami, that is, he was far from the natural places for the Latin exile in the United States– took distance from the artistic careers promoted under the auspices of ‘Latin American Art’ in order to become a rare bird, an uncomfortable animal, offside and dislocated from his ‘natural’ focus. That situation gave him relative independence to build a much freer artistic production.
En Azul: señales después del tacto (frottages) –In blue: signals after touch (frottages) – is his first solo exhibition in a European museum. The show presents a selection of works from recent years revolving around how invasive blue seawater and/or sacred baptism leaves a mark on us. While Roche’s first works carried mythologising narrative connotations and reviewed art history through its myths, his current work desacralises myth, transforming it into an everyday narration, a faith transformed into a socialised natural account –even if that socialisation is performed through an eternal self-portrait. Arnaldo Roche works within the frame of the self-portrait in order to elaborate a timely and dramatised combination of both stances: on the one hand, the pure narcissistic position of selfidentification in front of the mirror, and, on the other, that of the best model to become the mirror of the others. Thus, blue. Blue is the tint of the quicksilver of the mirror. The tint tinting the entire reality of islanders. The simultaneous temporal and spatial invasion of the sky and the sea. Blue colour cancels the sense of maps or makes maps an embracing abstraction that burns – as ‘ice burns’, a cold metaphor of frozen water which I like so much that I quote it here– and ‘embraces’ (hugs) us, tucking us up, enveloping us. As if Arnaldo Roche Rabell were holding ‘an unfinished conversation’ with Virgilio Piñera’s poetics and his notion of ‘the weight of the island’, the artist’s conception of the sea is prisonlike, the sea being considered as a gift/punishment where blue colour is the place/colour where the touch of his body reminds him that he is alive.
So he reveals the place where beauty settles down, similar to a self-critical eye, from the perspective of an action made from and through proximity, from the carnal closeness of things, where the abducted soul of things become an artistic thing, an everlasting thing mummified by painting, transformed into a relic. He lays before our gaze the traces of his touch: works, strokes, small pieces of oil painting that have been cut out, chromatic lines, swell splashing our faces, scent filling the humid sense –almost sexual– of our being, a dramatised scream that is restrained and laughs. The artist puts in a herculean effort in order to transform his painting into a ‘record that is almost faithful, in spite of being fictionalised –as it is every artwork transformedinto language–, a record of his view of the universe. A universe that refuses to founder despite the diaspora. And definitely, if we are here, it is because he did succeed in so doing.
Collaborate: Museo de San Juan, Puerto Rico
Galería Walter Otero Arte Contemporáneo, Puerto Rico
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The room staff is available to visitors for any questions or information regarding exposure