Half-Empty Buildings Over Mayhem-filled Streets

BY MADS BAJARIAS | While exploring the galleries of Kulay-Diwa, I came across a curious drawing by Raoul Rodriguez. "Untitled II" (pencil on paper, 25 x 20 cm., 2002) is a richly obsessional and paranoiac study about urban strife and isolation. It depicts a maze of buildings and walkways peopled by figures which are either faceless or limbless and large unblinking characters hiding behind walls. Each of the building dwellers are incomplete, missing parts of themselves and cut off from events outside of their towers. On the street, below the buildings and their fragmented beings, is a chaotic clash of arms between helmeted armies brandishing lances and broadswords and mounted on warhorses. The armies on the streets are pressed together, toe to toe, locked in combat.

This work echoes M.C. Escher's surrealistic woodcuts, but while the Dutch master's fascination was with mathematics and architecture, Rodriguez's preoccupation in this work seems to be the urban tensions inherent in a society with wide divisions. You have the rabble fighting for space on the streets while alienated beings peer anxiously from their half-empty buildings.

Raoul Rodriguez's "Untitled II" is in the Kulay-Diwa Gallery of Philippine Contemporary Art.

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