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Denver, CO — Like many people, Diego Rodriguez-Warner has spent the pandemic quarantining at home, and the paintings and drawings he has created for Horror Vacui at Leon Gallery present material evidence of an artist forced to make due with supplies on-hand. Leftover acrylics, crayons, watercolors and spray paint adorn scraps of plywood and drywall that serve as canvas.
But the work avoids illustrating the grand themes of isolation and worry that other artists have wrestled with this year. Instead, Rodriguez-Warner spent his days creating pieces he labels as “attempts”: dozens of disparate efforts to distract from boredom and hone the complicated stenciling technique that has won him wide attention lately — including a spot in Crystal Bridges’ State of the Art 2020 and a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation (which no doubt enables ample “attempting”).
As the show’s title suggests, Rodriguez-Warner traffics in the artistic practice of leaving no bit of surface undecorated, and so he crams canvases with a mish-mash of imagery and bottomless nods to art history. A piece may start as a reclining nude, a hummingbird, or one of the violent battle scenes he favors concocting, but it could end up a swirl of allusions to everyone from Michelangelo to Matisse to Yoshitoshi, and everything from graffiti to comics to Japanese animation.
Little is left on the table and the work comes dangerously close to overindulgence. But Rodriguez-Warner possesses the skill of a DJ who knows his source material intimately. He mixes it all together with his signature move — a series of swirling, curvilinear ribbons he weaves throughout his scenes with sensational skill, created with stencils cut from contact paper and deftly-applied spray paint. They add depth and dynamism and transform what might be mayhem into compelling narratives.
Horror Vacui: New Works by Diego Rodriguez-Warner continues through January 16, 2021 at Leon Gallery (1112 E. 17th Avenue, Denver).
Editor’s Note: This endorsement is part of a special edition that Hyperallergic published on the ongoing legal case to return the photos of Renty and Delia Taylor to their descendants. * * * Your Honour — On April 11, 2018, The New York Times published a report on the differential outcomes for maternal and infant…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…