Freddy Rodríguez’ body of work is an extraordinary example of the continuing vitality of the art of painting. Born 1945 in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, Rodríguez received his artistic training in New York City, where his schools ranged from the Metropolitan Museum to the Art Students League, and his teachers’ were Rembrandt, Cézanne and Mondrian. Abstract Expressionism, Pop and Minimalism were the reigning stylistic proposals then, and Rodríguez learned from them, absorbing the authentic and discarding the faddish. By the 1970s he was already a painter with something to say, and whatever his conceptual concerns have been since then, these are always tied together by his obsession with painting.
Rodríguez, like his cultural hero the writer Julio Cortázar, has never been a prisoner of style. On the contrary, like the late and very international Argentinean, he questions the very form of his work. “Style” is something to discover/encounter through hard work and harder thinking, explored to the point of exhausting it, and then discarded. Therefore, when we look back at his body of work we encounter exploration of Pre-Columbian identity in large geometric paintings, eroticism in colorful organic abstractions, symbols of daily life in vigorous brushwork, the brutal conquest and encounter of cultures in the Caribbean or the presence of a dictator in a radically new visual vocabulary that synthesizes geometric and organic abstraction. His subjects and concerns range from sexual oppression in the Catholic Church to the very nature of abstraction and its politics for an artist from the Third World. All this done within the tradition of Western painting; a tradition which he enhances and expands through a critical questioning. I believe that Freddy Rodríguez is one of maybe twenty odd painters (Rochelle Fein stein, William T. Williams being two others) that continue to make painting vital in contemporary art. Just as I have enjoyed encountering his pictorial achievements of the past three and a half decades, I look forward to the adventures in painting to come.
Alejandro Anreus, PhD
Professor of Art History and Latin American/Latino Studies
William Paterson University
Former Curator, Jersey City Museum, 1993-2001