by Joseph Hazani
A Dilettante, January 17, 2018
Rodrigo Branco held an opening titled Molding A Hard Rock at Lois Lambert Gallery. Aside from the bright-eyed, apple-dunking plunge into the primary color yellow which sparkled wonder because of its paradoxical audacity, the portraits Mr. Branco painted bring forward an unheralded technique: the broad brushstrokes of facial obscurity.
None of his portraits go unspared. We have the facial obliteration of each which perhaps obviates our uncontrollable biological and psychological responses to faces and instead allows us to see the essence
of the person being captured. Plainly speaking, this would be their personality, but retaining a higher treatment allows us to speak more philosophically to the aesthetic efforts. Granted, there is still enough human here to stimulate apish behavioral responses, but we do not view the persons instinctually in terms of fight-or-flight but rather we view them with curiosity and wonder. And perhaps it is this response which captivated Mr. Branco in expressing his profound discovery: that this wonder is reflective of the utterly infinite variegations of human living, reflexive with our own act of being human.
Lastly, strikingly none of the portraits feel blemished, as if some erratic vandal defaced them. The defacement, then, is done harmoniously with the interpretation of the compositions presented here.
As for his more magisterial compositions, they are as deliciously dynamic with their colors as the choice of yellow prior. The reddish hues dance around the canvas a la Matisse, with as much of a spirit to succor an affirmation to living life, however treacherous its path harms – with a yea. They are reminiscent of graffiti pop art, of Venice Beach USA; an ethereal verve toward worshipping Dionysus for his gifts of spontaneous order. For the compositions may at best resemble something cathedral in one instance, yet never actually resembling anything manmade. They are made from dreams, the cotton of imagination, to bludgeon an ordinary life with simply the inconceivable.
In summary, this was a terrific showing and a terrific new artist to have witnessed.