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Breese Little presents Corridas y Venidas, Elio Rodríguez's first solo exhibition in the UK
Elio Rodriguez, Forest On The Walls VI, 2014, Fabric, Rubber, 50 x 45 x 25 cm. Photo: Courtesy of Breese Little.
LONDON.- Corridas y Venidas is a selection of Rodríguez’s recent work including paintings, silkscreen prints, etchings and sculpture. This multi media selection is unusual for Rodríguez who tends to exhibit the many strands of his practise in isolation. He describes the processes as so distinct that the results can suggest a different artist at work. However, clear threads are consistent through Rodríguez’s practise, contributing to the commercialised myth of Macho Enterprise, the concept behind his entire body of work.

Macho Enterprise is Rodríguez’s fictitious business that binds his production together under a phallic palm tree logo. The ironic initiative is a humorous critique initially directed at modern Cuba’s social stereotypes and political history and lately Spanish culture, where Rodríguez now lives and works.

Bombastic tropical environments overflow with exaggerated sexual scenes between the mulatta and the tourist, lightly veiling the realities of sex tourism that has profited from the Western view of a Cuban paradise. Rodríguez similarly sends up Spanish icons of the virile toreador and raging bulls, with Goya-esque engravings. Prints and paintings are complemented by tactile black fabric sculptures and luxuriously glazed white ceramics. Abstract bulging forms framed with leafy fronds and hanging fruit share the sexual double meaning of the exhibition’s title. Corridas y Venidas translates as a word play on ‘jumping from one place to another’, but can also refer to explicit sexual ecstasy.

Clichéd identities stem from Rodríguez’s experience of nationality in familiar and new cultures. While his work charts a journey of a changed position through migration, Macho Enterprise lifts direct responsibility from the artist in becoming its own absurd entity. The artist invites his viewers into a shifting and outrageous game, justified by Rodríguez’s rationale that ‘The best way to understand something is through humour’.

Elio Rodríguez (b. 1966, Havana, Cuba) lives and works in Spain. He graduated from San Alejandro Art Academy, Havana, in 1984 and the Higher Institute of Art (ISA), Havana, in 1989. Recent solo exhibitions include Selva en las Paredes, Pumps Project, Las Cigarreras, Alicante, Spain (2012) and Ceiba Negra, L’Escorxador, Elche, Alicante, Spain (2009). Groups shows include Citizens of the World, Cuba in Queens, Queens Museum, New York (2013), Cannibal/Carnival: Elio Rodríguez and Douglas Pérez Castro, BREESE LITTLE, London (2012), Queloides, Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art, Mattress Factory Art Museum, Pittsburgh, New York, Boston (2011), Without Masks, Johannesburg Art Center (2010), Elio Rodríguez/Mayra Alpizar, Cervantes Institute, London (2006) and Ceiba (with Susana Guerrero), IX Biennial of Havana, Provincial Art Center of Art, Havana (2006). Residencies include Cohen Fellowship, Hutchins Centre, Harvard University (Forthcoming, 2015), Mattress Factory Art Museum, Pittsburgh (2010), El Museo Diego Rivera & Francisco Oller, Buffalo, NY (2003) and Tufts University, Medford, Mass.(2002) and Ceramic Workshop, Harvard University, Boston (2002).

Rodríguez’s work is featured in international collections including Museo Nacional de Artes, Cuba, Museo del Humor, San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba, Center for Cuban Studies, New York, Wilfredo Lam Contemporary Arts Center, Cuba, Arte y Naturaleza, Madrid, Peggy Crafitz Collection, Washington DC, Chris Von Christierson Collection, London, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Collection, New York and Du Bois Institute for African and Afro American Research, Boston.

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