G.V. Rodriguez | Timo Fahler

5523 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038
Sep 16, 6 PM - 9 PM — ends Oct 14, 2023
The commonplace subjects and restful mood in G.V. Rodriguez’s works are conduits for profane illuminations—lucid dreams imprinted, sewn, and painted into dense canvas and linen assemblages. Being a self-taught artist utilizing an unusual combination of processes, Rodriguez has created for himself an idiosyncratic figurative lexicon. His work is starkly reminiscent of 1840s Realism, where quotidian scenes were reconsidered for the power of their latent content. The surface exposes the depths. The essence must appear.

Realist master Gustave Courbet expressed latent psychological content through the hands of his subjects. In Rodriguez’s works too, hands often play a leading role in disclosing what faces conceal, as can be observed in most all of his works, namely Low Light, Big Red, Materia Medica, Fellow Feeling, and Lights Out. But Rodriguez’s works are many sided, and even such potent guideposts as his figures’ hands are often only gateways into multifaceted narrative expositions.

Take Libra, for instance, in which a pondering face observes the five stars of the titular constellation, which themselves exist within the silhouetted profile of another face. The internal is externalized and internalized once more.

The Charade too employs the positive and negative zones afforded by sewn fragments of canvas and linen to offer multiple echoes of the same scene, like discreet moments in time superimposed one upon the other. Both brooding figures are depicted in states of quiet composure and inward melancholy. In Lights Out, this strategy is exaggerated even more. The highly layered areas composing the right-hand figure’s torso and face reveal a density bordering on Expressionism, again synthesizing inner and outer states. This picture typifies the artist’s work: to turn out the lights so that one might truly see; to create from the sleeping silence of nothingness.

In Fellow Feeling, two boys compete for the romantic attention of a third figure, both offering bouquets of flowers. The rear figure is dislocated into three materials: the wrestled arm around the neck of the second boy, the monoprinted face, and the monoprinted hand at right. The heightened clarity of his face encourages the viewer to identify with him. The work can be read solipsistically. The beloved and the competition are projections of the rear figure’s respective desires and fears. Why else would the beloved’s face be so illegible if not for the fact that she does not yet exist. And should not the competition too, similarly stripped of identity, be merely an aspect of the central figure himself?

Surrealist writer and poet André Breton once wrote: “There can be no beauty at all, as far as I am concerned … except at the cost of affirming the reciprocal relations linking the object seen in its motion and in its repose.” Breton’s core imperative—to present an image in a coincidence of contradictory states—is at work in the dramaturgical psychology of Rodriguez’s figures. His paintings are narrative multiple exposures—his content as densely layered as his material practice. The quick outlines presented in this exhibition are little more than introductions to the psychological complexities persistent throughout the works. The subjects of Rodriguez’s paintings position themselves in the twilight zone between wakefulness and sleep. Within this liminal zone, authenticity and individuality become challenged. Beneath the prosaic patterns of daily life lies an ocean of psychological content. Ultimately unknowable in its full scope, it is rather glimpsed fleetingly through Rodriguez’s sewn shreds of canvas and linen. Treating the material of dreams with the same attention as the material of life, Rodriguez’s paintings bring the depths to the surface. The essence must appear.

-Grant Edward Tyler


It is said, in the realm of science, that glass is a state of matter rather than a material––neither solid nor liquid, but in between. Frozen in its moment of transition, forever hinting at change. It is called an amorphous liquid––amorphous from the Ancient Greek literally meaning “no form.” In “DUSTOPIA,” timo fahler shapes the unshaped; by cutting and connecting pieces of glass and guiding light, by bending rebar into animated bearers of the work, and by molding plaster into body parts that literally insert the maker’s hand into the work. In his second solo exhibition with the gallery, fahler grasps at the imagined horrors and hopes of the future through our collective knowledge of the past. It follows the artist’s ongoing search to point out the relative nothingness in “good” and “bad”, and serves as a reminder that we both came from and will return to dust.

The show begins and ends with the singular work us/them, me/you, which presents a dual nightmare and dreamscape viewers fall into time and again throughout the exhibition. Red and blue clouds evoke both beauty and fear or water and fire; a brown and a white figure appear to scream but the clear glass representing their voices echoes only silence. Front and center, we see an earthly belly bracing two snake heads facing each other, mouths open and touching, each holding a human head. It is the wake of a (re)birth, a shedding, that could be the end of us–but not of everything. us/them, me/you is a preface to regeneration into an unknown that could only be godly.

“DUSTOPIA” takes us across three chapters of work in which fahler places narratives around AI and surveillance techniques alongside the crumbling façade of American capitalism and imperialism, but intertwines those with fragments of personal joy and fantasy. In chapter one, comprising five iconographic works, and all soldered into found or hand-made fences, the face of freedom is called into question. Isolated imagery comprises the Statue of Liberty torch in a discarded chain link gate, the Apple logo in a window grate cut off by a burned down home, the Challenger space shuttle, and symbolic and patriotic American eagles inlaid in gates, emblematic of the dying dream of owning property. The series presents a scene of darkness alluding to the atrocious truths behind late stage capitalism and casts a shadow over the promise that the United States once held.

But, right before one may fall into a depressing mania about the state of things, fahler taps into personal delights in the second chapter. We are reminded exactly of the beauty of our infinitesimal presence in the world; its magic and mystery reflected in the attributes of copper used as a weighted bearing. In copper zen mountain, we see mountains and vineyards, landscapes gleaned from the artist’s visual archive of cross country runs. Draping sun beams bathe a sublime utopia in which the magnitude of the natural world grounds us into a serenity, and depicts the coexistence of everyday tragedy with zen moments. It then only seems wise to take this acceptance of our ephemerality while following the science fictional turn the exhibition culminates into.

Rooted in the continuation of life, irrelevant of our anthropocentric value systems, fahler introduces hybrid creatures in “DUSTOPIA’s” third and final chapter. A gigantic arachnid, four-headed serpent “amorph elenchi” that takes after the Aztec goddess Coatlicue, the goddess of rebirth, mother of the moon and the stars, stands eleven feet tall in the middle of the gallery. Her seemingly unearthed rebar legs lean into fahler’s speculation of AI tapping into the root systems of nature and so gaining control of all life through the pure knowledge that it holds. As mother of the stars, she regulates all dust from light to soil, allowing the world to feed itself; to eat oneself. Depending on the angle her four faces merge into two, resembling the facing snakeheads in us/them, me/you, an amorphous creature biting another or being forever trapped in transition.

-Lara Schoorl