Inside an Artist’s Studio - Renowned Venezuelan Painter Rodolfo Villaplana Based in Tbilisi
27 November, 2015
Inside an Artist’s Studio - Renowned Venezuelan Painter Rodolfo Villaplana Based in Tbilisi
Recently I received an invitation to an artist’s studio in Tbilisi and decided that it was high time to take someone up on it. I went to a viewing of Rodolfo Villaplana’s studio, which is located in the Silk Museum next to the stadium. Rodolfo Villaplana is a prominent up-and-coming Venezuelan painter who has set up shop in Tbilisi.

Upon walking through the rotating metal gate and onto the museum grounds, there was a feeling I was entering a Wes
Anderson movie set. The studio appeared to be a converted recital or presentation hall. Chairs, which looked like they were from no later than the Democratic Republic of Georgia period, were stored in the corner. The rest of the room’s real estate was occupied by Rodolfo’s paintings. I’m no art aficionado, but I’d like to think I can recognize quality craftsmanship when I see it. I had seen photographs of his work, but to see them in person was like geotv.geseeing them for the first time.

I know Rodolfo quite well and would consider him to be among the most optimistic of optimists. However, his works captures an outlook on humanity with a seriousness and sobriety that belies his personality. That’s not to say his works are depressing, but more of an elucidation of what the artist finds wrong with the world’s current state of affairs. Take his “Ratzinger Revisited” for example: It’s a 265x190 cm work featuring Pope Benedict gazing menacingly upon the viewer. Perhaps it’s the fact that I haven’t been to confession in quite a while, but I found it difficult to stand in front of the painting without the feeling that the Pope was going to jump out and rebuke me with the full power of his holy authority. Without knowing Rodolfo, it would be easy to analyze his paintings as politically motivated. But, if one were to place Ratzinger Revisited, or Tunnel, in juxtaposition with one of his ‘lighter’ portraits, one would find that the Rodolfo’s main motive is not to persuade, but to illuminate that which he cares for most, the true nature of the human spirit.

Rodolfo Villaplana is a Venezuelan native but calls London home, whenever he is not otherwise occupied exhibiting, lecturing and painting around the world, that is. He has been residing in Tbilisi for the last five months, preparing for his latest exhibition – Duchamp is Dead – at the MOMA Tbilisi Museum. It takes place on November 26th at 7:00 PM.

Duchamp is Dead

“Indeed, Villaplana has this uncanny knack of psychologically penetrating not only the figure portrayed, but also the observer. This also happens in the painting of a gigantic face of a baby, grave and conscious of his pain, entitled Duchamp is dead, (180x180cm) where a new beginning towards a better art is expressed through a new life.”

Photo courtesy of Gaia Serena Simionati

Surprise at Pimlico with Georgian Dancer
“The scene depicts flying elks, floating candelabra, spectator dogs, pendulous cages, spectres of death, billiards’ tables, youths yelling, fathers looking abstracted and desperate, and a marvelous Georgian Dancer. All of this – fascinating and potent in its energetic disharmony – concerns the painting Surprise at Pimlico with Georgian Dancer. The work depicts the interior of an actual pub in London, now closed, which the artist used to frequent. The pub was situated close to an institution for the mentally ill, and the patients frequently visited the pub. Often yelling, they would come in the company of fathers or brothers, taking in a slice of so-called ‘normal life.’ The painting portrays madness, but also freedom, harking back to Matisse’s red room: pure, crazy creativity.
The kind Duchamp would have, were he still alive.”

Photo courtesy of Gaia Serena Simionati

Ratzinger Revisited
“The purpose of these portraits is to deform the normal vision of things, transferring them to contexts and territories different from their natural ones. For example, in the malign gaze of the Pope in Ratzinger Revisited.”

Photo courtesy of Gaia Serena Simionati

Author: Robert Cooper
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