LAUNCH LA is proud to present Viscosity, a new exhibition by Ana Rodriguez and Cole M. James. Through a medley of organic and inorganic materials both artists weave a harmonious body of extravagant colours, sinuous shapes and syrupy textures. Yet peering through these commonalities are jagged edges of individual inspiration, distinct processes and two very different rationales.
Both James and Rodriguez exhibit an intuitive understanding of colour and contrast as stimuli for deep and elemental emotional resonance. The main distinction in their works however, lies in where they draw these colours from: James’ colours are lusciously botanical, ranging from bark browns to bruised plum purples and at times accented by stunningly bright floral shades, while Rodriguez takes this brightness to an almost toxic extreme, feeding on memories of growing up in a community hemmed in by chemical plants, factories and industrial bakeries. The patterns and cheerful colours of prized childhood possessions also feature, mingling with brasher shades of wallpaper, fabrics and flooring.
In James’ paintings, these colours accent the already biological appearance of her structures, giving the impression of intricate branching floral arrangements – curiously marked by an absence of a central trunk, stem or root system. In Rodriguez’s paintings, radiant neons communicate a sense of irreverence, a fascination with the cloying sweetness of manufactured culture and synthetic food-stuffs dyed with artificial colours.
James utilizes her viewer’s emotional and cultural associations to certain materials and textures as visual guide through the complexity and fluid nature of identity. Glitter, rubber, resin, tar, sand, paper and satin are melded together, each ingredient impinging on the perception of the whole. The history of these materials also play a role, serving as a gateway to explore everything from consumerism to sexuality’s central role in defining and shaping identity.
Rodriguez is fueled by different motivations: through her works she taps into a sense of place, bringing to light all its smells – of spice factories and coffee roasteries mingling with the scent of death wafting from mechanized slaughterhouses. Rather than slavishly paying homage to reality however, she conjures a deeply personal world, both at once nostalgic and escapist – suffused with traces of her youthful fascination with the exotic landscapes and magical adventures of the Tales of the Arabian Nights.
In accordance with the show’s title, both James and Rodriguez present works that ensnare the viewer and elicit the careful consideration required to break through the surface and to touch the substance that lies beneath.