Exhibit | Rodriguez Calero: Urban Martyrs and Latter-Day Santos
Rodríguez Calero, “The Apparition”, 1999, 36 x 24. (Detail)
“Creation never gets easier, it is a constant struggle,” artist Rodriguez Calero observes. It is an intense undertaking, this desire to transform what exists in the mind’s eye into physical form. Working in collage, Calero creates a world all its own, a world that is at once anointed with spirits and ethereal energies that radiate from her work. Each image becomes an icon, inspiring devotion and creating a state of bliss that is wondrously soothing in its intensity. When taken individually, each is a work holds the power to draw you into its spell; when taken together, the cumulative effect is transformative.
“Urban Martyrs and Latter-Day Santos,” the first museum survey of Calero’s work, opens at El Museo del Barrio, New York, and runs through October 17, 2015. Calero’s original technique is called “acrollage,” a technique of layering glazes of luminous colors with rice and other kinds of paper. The blending of fermenting surfaces and stenciled patterns attains lustrous color and texture. Guest-curated by Alejandro Anreus, the installation includes 29 large acrollage canvases, 19 smaller collages, 13 fotacrolés (altered photography) on canvas board, and 3 works of mixed media on paper.
Born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York, Calero draws on the rich traditions of her background to create a visual landscape that combines surrealist collage, Catholic iconography, medieval religious painting, hip hop, and street culture. The result is rich tapestry that evokes a lush and magical world that beckons from beyond the veil. Calero’s layered glazes are like a spider’s web, at once soft and whimsical, yet strong and intricate. Her work is sensitive and complex, quiet yet vibrant and deep, resonant as a clarion bell that gently tolls in the breeze.
“The collage medium is a kind of surrealist art in which bits of flat materials are pasted together in an incongruous relationship for a symbolic or suggested effect,” says Calero. “This blending of elements offers an open ended means to construct ideas and feelings of an instinctual and emotional involvement that gives pursuit to my own personal expression and ideas.
“Compositions of the human figure, breaking, decomposing and rearranging, creates a puzzle of sorts, which is complex and fascinating like human nature. These conceptual images transcend abstract poetry and humor to a social and political urban presence and evokes an image of familiarity and sentiment.”
It is this presence that Calero’s work so brilliantly conveys in works that connect us to a temporal and transcendent plane, one filled with works titled Saint Anthony, The Apparition, Orisha, and Divine Prophet. The result is an exhibition that allows us to enter into a sacred space, a chamber where art is the means by which we can pause, reflect, and venerate, to consider the many face of the divine that are presented in “Urban Martyrs and Latter Day Santos.”
“RODRIGUEZ CALERO: Urban Martyrs and Latter Day Santos” is on view July 22, 2015 – October 17, 2015 at El Museo Del Barrio, NY.
All images courtesy of the artist.
Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.