María de los Angeles Rodriguez Jímenez: Bater Cabeza

May 24 - July 12, 2024

María de los Angeles Rodriguez Jímenez: Bater Cabeza

May 24 – July 12, 2024


Opening Reception: Friday, May 24th from 6-8pm


David Castillo presents Bater Cabeza, a solo exhibition of new works by María de los Angeles Rodríguez Jiménez. Drawing from both the canonical and the extraordinary, Rodríguez Jiménez negotiates her relationship with spirituality, as an artist and a Yorubá practitioner. The exhibition takes its title from the opening gesture of all Yorubá rituals—bowing one’s head to the ground—Bater Cabeza employs abstract painting as a storytelling device aptly suited to the complex histories of Yorubá energies known as the orishás. Drawing mostly from oral histories of the female orishás, Rodríguez Jiménez explores painting’s capacity to hold ashé, the Yorubá notion of Life Energy.


The works in this exhibition are at once weighted and buoyant, often draping down in structure and form, while aloft in color and composition. Formally abstract compositions rendered in liquid inks and dyes are punctuated by sewn beads, knotted ropes, figurative amulets, sequined fabrics, and woven palm fibers. Reflective substrates are mixed in and dusted over[1]. Disparate materials are interwoven to create painting surfaces that mirrors the multilayered oral histories of the orishás.


After two years of intensive research and practice, Rodríguez Jiménez’s exhibition is a new body of multidisciplinary works made between Brazil and the U.S. In 2021, Rodríguez Jiménez completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Bahia, Brazil, where she studied and created work around the oral histories, rituals, and art-making practices of the Terreiros, large compounds designated for Afro-spiritual practices.  In 2022, Rodríguez Jiménez participated in the Jerome Robbins Dance Fellowship / New York Public Library Symposium at Lincoln Center, where she examined the role of material archive in relation to spiritual practice built on oral and corporeal histories.


In her distinctly physical and choreographic process, the artist moves the unstretched paintings between the ground and the wall, overlapping one onto the other as she applies inks and dyes, folding and clustering the painting plane as the liquid colors solidify. This process yields a series of imprints and reliefs—some appear almost photographic or as a xerox scan, while others are barely visible. Working with these imprints as forms, Rodríguez Jiménez arrives at compositions that offer a corporeal understanding of each painting. The distinction—between that which is understood through feeling and that which is understood through seeing—functions as one of the central investigations of the artist’s practice.


In a 2023 lecture delivered at Lincoln Center as part of the NYPL Symposium, Rodríguez Jiménez notes,


“The complexity of Ifá is not one that I am capable of speaking on… Some things can only be understood through the bodily history of practitioners, just like dance can only be truly experienced and felt with practice.”


As part of her painting practice, Rodríguez Jiménez works with epistemologies of consideration, of the spiritual and of the aesthetic. Not always linear, but always in dialogue, the works are comprised of repurposed materials—silk, paper, palm, beads, paint, resin, wax, glitter—all having past lives, adding to the works’ potential as vessels for “ashé”.


Maria de los Angeles Rodríguez Jiménez was born in 1992 in Holguín, Cuba. She then immigrated to New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 2015 and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University in 2020. Her work has been exhibited at institutions such as the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA), the Frost Art Museum (Miami, FL), among others. She was a recipient of The Fulbright Research Fellowship (2021) where she collaborated with Candomblé dancers and practitioners in Brazil. Rodríguez Jiménez has participated in numerous residencies including the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture (2016) and currently is in residence at the Alma | Lewis Residency in Pittsburgh, will collaborate with A.I.R. in New York this Fall and Spring and opens an outdoor commissioned project with Ballroom Marfa on June 12th.  She currently lives and works in Queens, New York.




[1] The sparkling effect created through this process functions as an allusion to Yemayá, the orishá of the ocean who reveals herself through light glistening on the ocean’s surface.

María de los Angeles Rodriguez Jimenez