Bruisers, Daniel Rios Rodriguez’s first solo show in the region, is a presentation of entirely new two-dimensional and three-dimensional works. He likens his works to “bruisers” or unrefined, rough-and-tumble individuals:
“They are people that are tough and pushing through the world. The paintings are pushing and fighting their way through something. Many of them do undergo a lot of heavy hitting and burning and throwing across the floor. They’ll sit here in a pile for a long time, and then they come out. They have a life and lifespan that is bruised.”
—Daniel Rios Rodriguez
Much of what Rios Rodriguez uses is found, as he likes the “reconstitution of materials.” Terracotta drainage trays and old wood possess a past life that is evident in the worked, impasto surfaces and custom frames. Despite their diminutive appearance, his works are durable and resilient, and they make their way through the hardships of existence, much like human beings do. For Rios Rodriguez, he is creating a total work, frame and all. In his own words, “a lot of painting functions as a surface and image to look at.” It’s not just the works themselves that are so well-considered, but also the conversation that happens between the works while being made in his studio. He works simultaneously on multiple paintings at once generating more of a rhythmic body of work rather than isolated paintings. This consideration extends well into the gallery space, from the amount of light to the ambient sound in the space in order to recreate a warmer environment reminiscent of his studio. This is one among many reasons his works require time spent with them, and there is an intimacy forged between the work and the viewer.
The works in Bruisers toe the line between the organic and the geometric. One can make out snakes, leaves, landscapes, and natural elements, but Rios Rodriguez abstracts them just enough to present as enigmatic symbols for something much larger than us. His layered images extend beyond their literal meanings into territories like life, rebirth, and what it means to be an artist and a human in the past, present, and future.