Omar Rodriguez-Graham reads Renaissance paintings like an architectural diagram, extrapolating compositional armatures and color relations from historic masters such as Uccello and applies them in his dynamic abstractions.
In a carefully planned process, Rodriguez-Graham digitally modifies these historic paintings to an unrecognizable abstraction. These digital sketches are then translated into actual large-format paintings. A patchy sky, a stark insignia, colorful regalia, limbs and weaponry are the substrates for a reconsidered image.
As with the calculated approach of Renaissance painters, Rodriguez-Graham methodically assigns different colors, textures and techniques to specific areas, slowly constructing each plane. Even the shape and scale of canvases are carefully considered. As he builds the painting, Rodriguez-Graham welcomes moments of improvisation, experimenting with different ways of applying oil paint in each passage of the picture. This is his way of compressing and tackling various moments of art history.
And yet in the end, these very contemporary abstract paintings feel related to the Renaissance. The palette and juxtapositions might be from Tiepolo’s “Immaculate Conception”, reconsidered. We blink several times and perhaps the flowing blue robe materializes.
In contrast, Rodriguez-Graham’s small format drawings with color pencil on linen are intimate and light, often with areas of the raw linen left exposed. Exploring the nuances of a different medium, these delicate works focus on a single burst of energy.
In the end, his unique compositions are bold and charged with vitality and emotion. By opening a dialogue with the great painters in history, Rodriguez-Graham is an artist fully aware of the progression of abstraction in the last seventy years. His work is imbued with the power not seen often in today’s abstractions.