Just four months ago, Gamaliel Rodriguez’s synthetic landscapes, which depict a world where industrial buildings meld into nature and are absent of human life, could be read as dystopian fabrications. Today, as most of his native island remains without power after Hurricane Maria, the drawings reflect neither fiction nor future, but a troubling hyperreality. In light of Puerto Rico’s tragic fate, the works in Uncertainty Gates have gone from fantastic speculation to prescient compositions.
While it’s impossible to view these images without thinking of the artist’s homeland, they remain in a skillfully ambiguous state. Using the omnipresent rectilinear vocabulary of municipal and residential buildings all over the world, these scenes could be any place — from Chernobyl to Three Mile Island. As the work vacillates between obscurity and specificity, it also plays with the depth and surface of the picture plane. Landscapes recede deep into 3-D space, yet forms are obscured in the foreground, rejecting traditional modes of perspectival rendering,
In each drawing, modest materials—paper, pencil, and felt tip pen—become greater than the sum of their parts, with melancholy grey and cerulean hues bringing the landscapes to life. Delicate tensions abound: arial views suggest a cold distance, while meticulous mark making reveals the hand of the artist, drawing us ever closer.