PAINTINGS > 'At the Edge of the Day' Landscapes Skyscapes

Rocío Rodríguez
‘At the Edge of the Day’ a series of works.

In 2014 I was awarded an artist residency in Marfa, Texas. The huge expanses of land and sky inherent to Marfa offered a new perception of space, and created in me a longing to bring those qualities into my work. But the question that was always present was how? As a confirmed abstract painter committed to a sparse visual vocabulary I felt two opposing forces developing within me, one wanting to maintain a certain purity of form not suggestive of any clear visual reference, the other a yearning for deep space, light, and fragments of pictorial representation.

While in Marfa I spent many hours observing the landscape, noting the constant conversation between earth and sky, the light and how it changed the way things appeared from minute to minute transforming the space. I wanted these references to enter my work, but I was not yet prepared to embrace the landscape fully. In spite of that, fragments of sky, land and even sunsets began to seep into the abstract forms that were present in my work. I remember thinking ‘I would like to paint a sunset’. But how does one depict one of the most clichéd and photographed of images and make it work in contemporary times without it being kitschy, trivial, or overly romantic?
That thought was put on the back burner until five years later when I came to the end of my journey with previous work. This precipitated the need to leave the environs of the city and be immersed in nature, seeking a confrontation with something bigger than myself. So I headed West to the countryside outside of Taos, New Mexico, in the Fall of 2019, where for six weeks I had an unparalleled view of the sky and land and felt the nurturing power of my surroundings.

Taking a detour away from my long journey with abstraction and using such a ‘traditional’ subject as the landscape with its long history has prompted a number of questions that have just started to be investigated. The first is why this, why now? The desire to ‘return to nature’ might be thought of as an escape from existential worries, from a world rife with contradictions and ambiguities, where nature can provide a palliative to these anxieties, or it can be a wishful return to some romantic ideal. Neither of these premises was the impetus for these works but they are considerations that I think about. What I am interested in as an artist is the expression of an image that in some ways speaks to my own state of mind.

The images in these works represent that space in time when the day is ending and night begins--- twilight, dusk, sunset. This period of the day does not last long. It vanishes as it begins to unfold. I am attracted to the transient quality that this moment in time offers and the metaphorical implications that it encapsulates. The paintings’ palette in this body of work is purposefully monochromatic removing the drama that color can provide, and leaving that to the imagination of the viewer.

These paintings are not supported by some art historical reference to past images of the landscape with a ‘modern’ twist. They are simply images direct from the landscape. Some are fragmented, some are juxtaposed with repetitions, some include abstract rectangles that speak to that ‘in between’ place of what something is as one experiences it, and what something is when it is imagined.