Cristina Rodriguez

Essay by Lavinia Calza (The Carnival of the Animals, 1997)

Exhibition catalogue introduction by Lavinia Calza


Cristina Rodriguez has been living and working in London since 1989. Her paintings, imbued with the powerful colours and sculptural forms of her native Colombia, take their inspiration from a wide variety of subjects, such as poetry, literature, music and her own life and travels.

The series of twenty-two paintings on exhibition at the Pump House Gallery is inspired by the music of Camille Saint-Saëns' "The Carnival of the Animals" which the composer wrote in 1886. When Cristina listened to the music for the first time, a powerful mélange of images of colourful birds, elephants, cuckoos in the woods, wild asses, sad tortoises and pleasant lions took shape in her imagination. She was fascinated by the variety of ingenious musical devices the composer used to sketch each animal.

Cristina's ability to transform her tangible subject-matter into a magical dream-shape renders her work unique, subtly titillating her audience. The present series of paintings epitomises Cristina's elaboration of a visual language that combines spontaneity with a magical cohesion of shapes and colours. The sensual quality of her paintings, accentuated by the liberally applied oil paint that creates a richly textured surface, is at one with the juxtaposition of real and surreal, of everyday and magic, of perceptible landscapes rooted in reality and surreal dream-scapes.

Through her command of a brilliantly coloured palette, Cristina takes the viewer on a wonderful magical voyage created by her vivid imagination. As she herself says, each one of her paintings tells a story. Influenced by her rich cultural heritage that combines the mysterious world of pre-Colombian civilisation with western history, Cristina fuses in her paintings the world's perceptible forms with many fantastic creatures, in a colourful carousel of carefully delineated shapes and spaces.

Lavinia Calza

 
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Cristina Rodriguez's studio in Geneva, 2013