LAUNCH LA is proud to present I Saw Red new exhibition by Nano Rubio. Rubio’s latest paintings deeply prophetic and rebellious in spirit, exploring uncertain times and even more uncertain futures through a trademark sophisticated aesthetic rationale. Armed with color, contrast and motion he challenges humanity’s self-imposed exile from reality, confronting viewers with difficult questions and unpalatable truths.
Rubio’s work serves as a sort of visual expression of our zeitgeist’s consciousness. Drones sail through foreign skies, leagues from the humans that control them and rain destruction down upon other humans via wireless commands, self-driving cars and bipedal robots have yet to emerge from their awkward technological pubescence, and yet giants of industry like Elon Musk and eminent thinkers like Steven Hawking are outspoken about the hazards of advanced AI – fearing that computers are not only beginning to supplant humans in the workplace, but may also be approaching self-awareness. Earthquakes, destructive weather patterns and global conflicts simmer, and yet, in this time of great environmental and political upheaval, ever more digital and artificial worlds are springing up to cater to our desire for distraction and escape. To compliment this escapist urge VR headsets and ever more advanced graphical capabilities eat away at the distinction between the virtual and reality. Rubio however attempts to shift attention away from the white-noise of entertainment and consumerism, utilizing the power and detachment of abstraction to reacquaint viewer with these unpleasant questions about humanity’s present state and future.
Rubio’s creative process combines tight and meticulous line drawing with action painting’s explosive energy, defacing his carefully laid backgrounds with bursts of color and smears of paint. Like one of his influences, Gerhard Richter, Rubio is a keenly observant and deeply reflective artist, able to bend non-literal forms to deliver his message in by the most direct means. The figures in his foreground draw on the flesh-tones and shapes of the human form, yet are distorted and disfigured into sinuous shapes so streamlined and graphically lucid they resemble logos designed by high-powered design studios. Such allusions to mass advertising and the contrast of corporate and individual identity are not accidental, nor is the rich symbolism of the color red. Long associated with warnings and danger, red now marks the highest echelon of danger in the Homeland Security Advisory System, adorns stop signs and tells drivers when they are low on gas and has been used to signify our most impulsive emotions, ranging from consuming passion to unbridled rage. It is these twin impulses toward destruction and creation that Rubio harnesses, creating art as fraught with tension as it is appealing to the eye.
With paint and canvas Rubio reflects a century in which advances like computer to brain interfaces and genetic alteration are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be human. On the threshold of an Aladdin’s cave of wonders and dangers his paintings speak of consequences and possibilities that once only existed in the realm of Science Fiction and make-believe.
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Nano Rubio received his MFA from Claremont Graduate School in 2011.
He was the recipient of a GSU Graduate Fellowship and a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant Nominee. In 2012 he received a Moore Family Foundation Grant for his innovative practice and distinctive visual style.
His art has since been shown in prominent galleries from Los Angeles to New York in solo and group shows, as well as appearing well-known art publications like Fabrik magazine.