Vallauris-Perthus
Date 1969
Medium Vynil on platex
Dimensions 150 x 200 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-494
494.jpg
Joaquim Rodrigo's painting in the 1950s was concrete and abstract, but at the beginning of the following decade, he reformulated his work, now turning to questions of a political nature, namely the realities of colonialism (not only of his native country), and the relationship between Europe and Africa. From 1969 onwards, his travels became the single motif of his painting. As he observed, “'you could say that these paintings were the vestiges of journeys.”' Thus, the title of each painting consists of the two terminal points of the trip. The colour theory that Joaquim Rodrigo had elaborated during his abstract phase, meant the reduction of his palette to four colours (red, yellow, white and black), which he designated as “'fertile colours,”' and which are the only hues made of substances out of which life itself is constituted. The ground of these paintings is thus the admixture of all four colours that also, individually, make up the signs inscribed upon the surface. Each of these signs refers to an event perceived during a trip; an event that is, in the first instance, jotted down during the trip itself by a mere word or two in a notebook (rather than a traditional sketchbook). It is from these notes that Rodrigo later composed his paintings. The signs are inscribed from left to right, as if the pictorial surface were a page of writing, and as though the act of writing unleashed the memory that produces the images. These are linked to the artist’s perceptions on the journey, constituting his visual writing. The situations to which each painting alludes are never explicit, and incorporate numerous stories. In the sequence of signs, we are invited to understand a narrative dimension, but it is never possible to find in these works a story, with beginning, middle and end. The codes generated by these signs is hugely diverse. Joaquim Rodrigo frequently slips from verbal language to visual code, and vice versa. The motif might describe a situation in schematic terms, or it might quote an image, link it to a name, allude to a book, represent a section of a road, the map of a part of a city, or it may reduce the city to its name, written in miniscule letters. All of these signs are positioned on the picture plane like the markings of a route, and the painting may then be defined as a map of events, without a specific order binding them, other than the mnemonic exercise produced .