Gamaliel Rodriguez: Greetings from the Abandoned Land
April 13 - May 31, 2017
David Castillo Gallery, Miami Beach
Greetings from the Abandoned Land by Gamaliel Rodriguez evidences the decay, and eventual return to nature, of the West’s monumental architectures. His quasi-apocalyptic landscapes—finely rendered paintings which border on architectural schematic—travel through time into recent and distant futures, and imagine the inevitable collapse of global infrastructures into ruin.
Currents of Finnish architect Marco Casagrande’s theory of the Third Generation City resonate across this body of work: in the first generation of cities, humans coexist with nature; in the second, built structures are erected and diminish nature’s presence; and in the third generation, upon the collapse of the second, nature grows back through the ruins of architectural remains and absorbs the human-built environment back into itself.
The buildings of Rodriguez’ renderings are subsumed by their environments, as vines and trees obscure the hard, mid-century geometries of their designs. In monochromes of blues, indigos and teals, Rodriguez creates brooding, anonymous sites which are broadly allegorical and echo the symptoms of financial crises throughout the developed and developing worlds. In their delocalized representation, however, Rodriguez grounds his investigations of this subject on Puerto Rico and its ongoing government-debt crisis. These works depict the almost alien remains of spaces inspired by the island’s grand, touristic architectures; the hotels, now left to disrepair, that at mid-century marked avenues for prosperity.
Looking broadly to the material conditions which cultivated such neglect, Rodriguez’ evocative paintings tease the vocabulary of oversight across three definitions: Oversight as something lapsed or forgotten, reflecting on the decay endemic in these sceneries; oversight as regulatory apparatus, and the institutional systems—property owners, local governments, zoning boards—which, through lack of funds or inaction, endorsed the deterioration of these sites; and oversight as the artist’s own gaze, as he observes and considers the aesthetics and impacts of these forgotten structures and what they now symbolize.
Greetings from the Abandoned Land in many ways considers the ruin value of architectural spaces; the beauty in light of, rather than despite, their devastation. As a visual grammar of its own, the architectures of decay carry with them the histories of the civilizations which built them. And here, we see the emphatic evidence of decline. In looking back in the present through the lens of time, Rodriguez remembers its forgotten material legacies.