Maria de los Angeles Rodriguez Jimenez
David Castillo Gallery proudly presents Ojalá, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of paintings by Maria de los Angeles Rodríguez Jiménez.
The materials of Rodríguez Jiménez’ work are resolutely disobedient, encroaching beyond where they are expected to remain. Her paintings rise, lean, and appear to teeter precariously away from the wall. Canvases branch and trespass beyond their frames; the gestures of a medium unable to be contained by its own material. Architectural in their logic, these works confront the physical construction of painting as a two-dimensional medium limited by the flatness of the picture plane. And in contrast, Rodríguez Jiménez propositions the potential of painting as a volumetric object and personal artifact, one that readily proxies the shifting and unsettled dimensionality of a living and moving body.
Painting is humanized in this body of work inasmuch as it is comprised of a structural skeleton sheathed in textile skins. Rodríguez Jiménez does not anthropomorphize these works, but rather imbues them with a material precarity that renders them something approaching flesh and feeling. In formal experimentations between industrial materials—including steel fencing, bent rebar, sheet metal, and two-by-fours—and sinewy fabrics—such as silk, satin, suede, canvas, and velvet—Rodríguez Jiménez pieces together sculptural bodies which bare paint as a personal and individualizing marker.
Central to the thrust of Rodríguez Jiménez’ practice is her own narrative as a Cuban exile and her migration story of leaving the island and settling in the United States. She frames her practice against this experience of inhabiting a physical body which does not belong to any one place; a body which is caught between two memories of home; a here and there; and a new life and the lost potential of the one left behind. In her distinct approach to abstraction, she seeds paintings with a subjective and highly personal sensibility that renders them autobiographical. Her paintings billow and bulge to mirror the undefined borders of an identity that cannot be clearly defined, understood, or easily contained within established categories. Many of Rodríguez Jiménez’ works are titled in Spanish and reference everyday domestic objects; the devotional language of Afro-Cuban religious practices; and idiomatic expressions. In many ways, her works stand at a crossroads between individual and collective experience. They are autobiographical, visceral and personal in their telling of the artist’s own state of displacement; and, conversely, enter into a greater dialogue in union with the cultural and political moment, echoing the complicated networks of policy and rhetoric that accompany contemporary stories of moving beyond and between national borders.
Ojalá, a Spanish-language expression of hope, examines the potentials and aspirations of painting as a tool towards outlining the contemporary states of personal narrative, citizenship status, and belonging. Rodríguez Jiménez’ works swallow, stretch, and pivot their medium in material conglomerations that point to the urgency and unfixed nature of those conditions. And to this end, the exhibited works speak to the fervid nature of painting as a “zone of contagion,” in the words of critic and curator Daniel Birnbaum, that is “constantly branching and widening its scope.” Ojalá points towards the constellated subjects and objects of painting that Rodríguez Jiménez longingly dis- and relocates.
Maria de los Angeles Rodríguez Jiménez was born in Holguín, Cuba (1992) and immigrated to New Orleans, Louisiana in 2004. She currently lives and works in New Haven, CT where she is an MFA candidate in painting at Yale University. Maria holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cooper Union (2015). She attended the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture Residency (2016) among other artist residencies in Europe and Latin America. Among her upcoming exhibitions is Cut: Abstraction in the United States, 1970s to the present, curated by Amy Galpin, Ph.D. at the Frost Museum of Art, Miami.