(Brooklyn, New York) – Surveying five years of Lucía Rodríguez Pérez’s work, the Homecoming exhibition presented a body of work that reflects the artists earliest to recent explorations of the interplay between abstraction and representation, with color leading her investigation. Read more about the exhibition here.
This event and on-going series is titled “Color as a Question” because color is the starting point of Rodríguez Pérez’s art practice and research. This dialogue exemplifies Rodríguez Pérez’s commitment to exploring the question of color and developing a visual language that reveals its possibilities and propels the question forward. The goal of this ongoing conversation to is to learn more about Lucía and her work, and to begin considering what color is actively “doing” instead of passively “being” in art and around us daily.
The wide-ranging talk below explores the works on view and attempt to explain color as a language. Rodríguez Pérez will shed light on her process, sharing inspirations derived from medieval and late Renaissance art to reference materials she collects today, examine the various mediums used, and provide a glimpse into her overall process in the studio.
Q: Most of your early work, like the Grid series, features a distinct color palette or plays with optical illusions of depth or space created from a single pattern. But in your recent Balcony triptych, you created a composition with several new elements and bold decisions: introducing architecture, wavy pillars, multiple patterns for the tiles and fence, subtle gradients, strong light and shadows achieved in different colors. Was this a jump back into representation after leaning towards abstract work for several years? Or a feeling you were ready to develop abstraction and representation in tandem?
A: This piece is one of the first pieces that I did going fully abstract. The color palette that I chose was very much informed by the collages I did before (in 2018). In a way, they are less intuitive colors to work with. I was going for a palette that was very subtle. It’s almost as if you’re seeing something through a fog. I like that because it was a way to start thinking of how to introduce atmosphere even though I’m working with abstraction. I also like how I allowed myself to leave the brushstrokes more visible, which I think adds a little more character to the painting.
Q: How do you approach the balance between abstraction and representation in your work? Why do you see them as interconnected or united instead of opposing concepts?
A: One of the things I am very interested in is the relationship between abstraction and representation. Usually, when we approach art we tend to separate the two: is this abstract art or is this representational art? That difference doesn’t really exist. Artists are looking at things in abstract terms and how to put these shapes together: is it going to resemble something you can recognize or not? In the Balcony series, I wanted to take that to an extreme. I am working with very abstract elements: shapes, patterns, and colors. I am putting them together to really and clearly resemble an architectural space.
Q: The Latin word color “colorem” can be broken down “to hide or conceal”; in Middle English “to color” is to embellish or adorn, to disguise, to misrepresent. Do these meanings translate into your use of color in this series and creating illusions in your work? Also, how have early medieval and late renaissance art influenced your work and compositions?
A: One of the main inspirations for this work were the images and paintings of the late medieval and early renaissance art that I really like because they are in the awkward space between are we looking images as language to explain things like medieval art use to do or are we trying to create an illusion that you believe you could walk into the space like renaissance art did? In that transition, I think a lot of interesting things can happen because you introduce elements that are naturalistic and in favor of illusion, but also introducing elements completely compositional and visual. It creates a sense of awkwardness in the image, that I think for me is attractive but also unsettling. I like to be in that space. I think there is something to discover in that ambiguity. For me, ambiguity is essential in my work.
Q: How did you select your color palette for these? What kind of ambiguities do these colors produce in, for instance, the Pool series?
A: Naturally, I feel drawn to specific colors. Some of these color palettes with a lot of pinks, purples, and sometimes some greens, comes from my influence from watching Sailor Moon when I was younger [. . .] and I think it’s had a huge influence on my sense of aesthetics. I see it coming up and up again, and it becomes easier to work with them. I started working with the idea: how can I work in abstraction but include elements that suggest the presence of a physical space. I thought water was the perfect element because water distorts images and patterns. It [water] can start suggesting something else is there just through color and shape.
Q: This exhibition features your gouache and oil paintings, one drawing, paper collages, and this site-specific installation. Can you discuss how you choose your medium and why you’d gravitate to drawing over painting?
A: This piece over here is the only drawing included in the show. For me, when I think about drawing I don’t think about it too differently from painting. In a way, it’s painting with graphite. I tend to think about my work always in terms of shapes and color, even if its in grayscale. This one is graphite on paper, and what I was working with, this idea of “terrazzo” or this surface composed of different stones. One of my inspirations was thinking abut the floors in my school in Chile. I remember staring at the floor and not understanding very much how it was done but feeling very captivated by the different stones and how they reacted to light or how they were in relationship to one another. I loved the idea of them being so small but creating this big surface. By doing this drawing, I was spending time with the surface. I was feeling the paper and creating a sense of infinite space that expands beyond the limits. More than creating a work that was intricate just because it was responding to this very interesting material that I have been interested in.
Lucía Rodríguez Pérez (b. 1986, Santiago, Chile)
Lucía Rodríguez Pérez was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. She received her B.F.A. from the Universidad Católica de Chile in 2009, and her M.F.A. from the New York Academy of Art in 2016. Her work is encompassed primarily by paintings, but explores a range of media including works on paper, collage, sculpture, and videography. As described by her husband and artist collaborator, she is a “chromo-phile who prioritizes ambiguity.” Currently, her work explores the tension between abstraction and representation, and is informed by color as the first and last word. Rodríguez Pérez has shown internationally and widely in Colorado, including her debut solo exhibition in the United States at Alto Gallery in Denver (2022). Group exhibitions include Peep Space, Tarrytown, NY (2023); Sala Virtual CCU, Santiago, Chile (2022); Soft Times Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2022); RedLine, Denver, CO (2019); Light Grey Art Lab, Minneapolis, MN (2018); Flux Factory, New York, NY (2016); among others. She is the recipient of a merit scholarship at the New York Academy of Art, and has been awarded grants and residencies from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and Space 776 in New York. Her work has been featured by Project Gallery V, the Denver Art Museum, Mesa Gráfica, ArtAlLimite Newspaper, and more. In addition to Romi Studio, her work is included in New York-based gallery, Deanna Evans Projects’ Trove program. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.