Friday, April 10, 2009


Mercedes Pinto Arte Contemporáneo
April 7-29, 2009

Ricardo Roux presents us with very interesting material here, paintings formed of silkscreened playing cards on canvas paper (about 80 x 50 cm) with mysterious overlays of abstract brushstrokes, suggesting an image of self submerged in nature, dream, life. The idea of self is furthered by the slightly disorienting convention of two faces for each king (or queen), one right-side-up and one up-side-down, which suggests division, conflict, ambiguity. There is also what I assume is a self portrait, sans silkscreen, primarily in fauvist red, blue, and green which is (although it's easy to see precedents in Picasso, tribal art, or perhaps Hundertwasser) pleasantly shocking in its intensity.

Trump cards for me were the Queen of Diamonds, whose muddy greens and indigos suggested a strongly urban, washed-out feel, as if this queen had inhabited a decaying industrial section of the city for too long; and the Queen of Spades, dealt a better deal: slashes of deep yellow, light grey-greens, browns, reds, which read as the queen ensconced in, and molting into, the hillside in a bucolic pastoral scene, in perhaps late autumn.

Some of these have an exquisite feel, a depth that is entrancing in and of itself, with coarse, enigmatic brushwork invoking a sort of modern sfumato. There is an abstracted feel of life overtaking and entangling these figures, a sense of cyclic, mandalic energy if you will, which for me calls to mind the stolid figures of Jacob Lawrence's kinetic scenes moved along by forces they cannot encompass, but always somehow contained within an invisible design.

These Kings and Queens are us; our aggrandized, unintegrated selves an eternal conundrum, facing an onslaught of nature, circumstance and chance. Roux's notion of the static versus the dynamic is playful, if melancholic; he allows these hierarchic, archetypal, figures to merge with the ground of their environment. Roux, presenting the inevitable decay of inherently divided selves, sees an eventual organic reintegration; cycles, finally, are doing everything. If there's a veiled comment on mortality here, it's within a comforting philosophical stance.

Ricardo Roux's long and varied career is only furthered by the impact and conciseness of this show. It was good to see the power and creativity of his past work focused on these smaller, quasi-conceptual works. In the same way that a good jazz concert satisfies, one can certainly appreciate Roux delivering the goods, as only a seasoned artist can.

Nick Thabit
Bs.As. April 2009

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