Rabindranat Díaz-Cardona & Hector Madera-González

photo 1 Rabindranat Díaz Cardona & Hector Madera González

Rabindranat Díaz-Cardona, Hábitat, installation view

Two separate solo shows will open this week at METRO: plataformaorganizada in San Juan; Habitat by Rabindranat Díaz-Cardona and El pah-pay lone by Héctor Madera-González. Both artists live and work abroad, Díaz-Cardona in Madrid and Madera-González in Brooklyn, New  York. For Díaz-Cardona, this is his first solo presentation in over four years.

panda Rabindranat Díaz Cardona & Hector Madera González

From the series Protesters
Hábitat is a thoughtful and elegantly presented exhibition comprised of 35 small scale drawings from the series Dirty Didactics and 12 paintings from the series Protesters. Instead of being conventionally installed on a wall, the works are displayed lying atop a wooden table with two spot lamps. This presentation provides viewers with the opportunity to observe the works as archeological artifacts; perhaps remnants of a fragmented narrative that includes a plethora of characters and animals, but also situations from Puerto Rico’s political as well as cultural arena. The interplay between light and shadow produced by the lamps affords the works with a certain air of ambiguity. In his previous presentation at METRO (with a painting of artist Miguel Luciano from the series Gen-tegumento), the artist had focused his attention on the portrait, deconstructing its most viable and recognizable characteristics, and presenting it, through the even application of similar colors and the standardization of facial features, as a homogenous process with an equivalent end result. Here visitors can immediately sense a more whimsical approach to painting, one that has characterized the artist’s earlier works.

photo 11 Rabindranat Díaz Cardona & Hector Madera González

Rabindranat Díaz-Cardona, Hábitat, installation view

The combination of both series, that of Protesters comprised of images of animals against monotone color backgrounds, and Dirty Didactics, a grouping of delicate paintings and drawings, points to the symbiotic relationship between man and his natural animal instinct. Some compelling works from this series include multiple pieces with sculptural elements set flat against cork lined bulletin boards; perhaps a reference to the didactic notions behind the series’ title. One of these works refers to Puerto Rico’s ambiguous political situation; a recurring theme for many artists who have migrated abroad. It consists of 4 pieces, a small painting of a character drinking a Medalla beer (Puerto Rico’s most popular local beer), a drawing of a garbage bag on wood and two texts on wood. On the top, functioning as a title, or rather providing a context for the work, are the words “BAR TERRITORIO” referring to Puerto Rico’s yet unresolved colonial status.

Meanwhile paper, in its functional and most creative potential as a palpable, elastic and transformative material, is the protagonist of Héctor Madera-González’s solo project El pah-pay lone (“el papelón” or huge paper), which comprises mixed media works and sculpture. Words and phrases, which almost contain a cinematic quality, play an important role in Madera-González’s work, as well as what is hidden and revealed in each of his mixed media works.

photo 2 Rabindranat Díaz Cardona & Hector Madera González

Hector Madera-González
Madera-González’s process consists of the use, appropriation and alteration of media materials such as magazines, posters, and newspapers, through paint and tape, which serve as potential disrupters of an apparent media reality. One of the works presented at METRO, an installation of intervened portraits, takes on the popular cult of the artist as a media personality, drawing analogies between art and wrestling. Here the artist used a vintage publication he purchased in Paris which contained the portraits of some of the most sought after artists of the time. Figures such as Joseph Bueys, Picasso and Marcel Duchamp are represented, among others. The artist’s intervention entails the creation of masks on each face using colored tape and (curiously) masking tape; a meaningful gesture that could be interpreted as the faux self created by people and projected towards the world. Although Madera-González has used this ‘masking’ technique in other works, the fact that these are portraits of celebrated artists turns the work into a critique of art world mechanisms. Perhaps being an artist is similar to a wrestling match, where opponents face each other in a battle for ultimate victory, prestige and public recognition.

photo 3 Rabindranat Díaz Cardona & Hector Madera González

In front of this work, most of the space is swallowed by a giant black paper ball, folded and glued together to resemble a crumpled discarded paper. But more than seemingly representing the notion of frequent and monumental ideas which are eventually tossed out, the work is also a reiteration of Madera-González’s basic material of choice, paper. There is a saying in Spanish that a piece of paper can hold anything you write on it; it can be a malleable support for ideas, but it can also function as a black hole, an unknown and yet to be defined space where anything goes. Throughout his work, Madera-González utilizes and appropriates this material’s transformative nature, taking it to its ultimate reconstructive consequence.

-Carla Acevedo-Yates

For additional information on this exhibition and METRO’s yearly program, please visit METRO:plataformaorganizada.

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