The Chinese Horoscope 2008
© Cristina Rodriguez
Title: The Monkey
Medium: Oil on birch plywood gilded with 23 3/4 carat italian gold
Size: 90 x 90 cmRef: CRXXI
The Chinese Horoscope 2008
Background to the Chinese Horoscope Series
One sunny February day, forty years ago, I was taken by my parents to the Planetarium in Bogotá, Colombia, for the first time. Gazing up at the Zodiacal constellations, I was "star-struck" and remain so still.
Only recently have I begun to understand that what I felt in the Planetarium, so many years ago, may have come from the powerful sense of connection that we experience with ancient cultures. I believe now, that on that day, I returned in spirit to the Babylonians, the Armenians, the Egyptians, the Aztecs and all the many civilizations which have been inspired by those amazing configurations in the sky which are forever changing like the turbulent waters of life. I think this has been called "Collective Memory". Maybe it originates from the voices of our ancestors and the memories which travel through our blood. Certainly it becomes stronger and clearer when we open ourselves to listen to those voices.
Since I became an artist, I have dreamed of creating a body of work based on the symbols of the Signs of the Zodiac. I have been fascinated by the way in which different cultures have approached them visually and by their incredible forms. Capricorn, for example, is half goat and half fish tail, the only sign which is composed of two different animals. Could any form be more mysterious and mythical? Only four of the signs are significantly connected to the human form: Virgo, Libra, Gemini and Aquarius. Sagittarius is the only sign which is half human, half animal. All the other signs are strong, powerful animals: the goat, the bull, the lion, the scorpion, the crab and the two fishes. I felt impelled to interpret these enigmatic symbols in my own terms. I was already fairly preoccupied with these thoughts, when two years ago, whilst visiting the Archaeological Museum in Naples, I entered Il Salone della Meridiana. This huge room was designed by the astronomer Giuseppe Casella in 1793 and was intended to be used as an Astronomical Observatory. Traced along the floor is the Meridian and alongside it are all the Signs of the Zodiac, each contained within a perfect oval." Of course, an oval," I thought," an oval". From that moment, I realized that this series of paintings, based on the Signs of the Zodiac would be ovals on birch wood, encircled in gold. I could visualize them. How wonderful this was!
During those months of research into the history of astrology, I also began to read about totemic animals and the totemic forces which we all contain within us. Every single culture in the history of the world has used these forces to connect themselves to the Mysteries of Life. When I began to look at the images of the Chinese Horoscope, I saw that every human being is represented by an animal: the rat, the ox, the tiger, the hare, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, the pig. There are twelve signs in the Zodiac and twelve animals in the Chinese Horoscope. That was the moment when this body of work was born. It is with this in mind that I would like to introduce "What is your Sign?", my interpretation of both the Signs of the Zodiac and the Chinese Horoscope.
Cristina Rodriguez, London 2009