Rodrigo Valenzuela’s Critical Images of Polystyrene Constructions

November 22, 2019


“Past | Present”, Rodrigo Valenzuela’s newest solo exhibition is comprised of two parts: a selection of work from major series in photography, video and painting created between 2013 and 2018; and the debut of a new body of monochromatic photographs titled “Stature”.

© Rodrigo Valenzuela "Stature No. 10", 2019

This last series extends practices Valenzuela has refined over the past five years. Studio constructions (or “performances for the camera,” as the artist calls them) are built and rebuilt purely to be photographed from a fixed perspective.

The artist makes the enclosing stage, and every object within, by casting concrete and clay from discarded consumer electronics packaging. The cast objects are not glued or affixed to each other, but are balanced in tenuous arrangements that vary from abstract to highly anthropomorphic “monsters.”

© Rodrigo Valenzuela "Stature No. 8", 2019

The choices of polystyrene forms and concrete as medium provide Valenzuela an indirect means to explore the discards and inversions of capitalist endeavor. As in his previous four series of photographed studio constructions, the artist embeds numerous references that interest and influence him, from surrealist painting to Latin American brutalist architecture to Ursula Schulz-Dornburg’s images of post-Soviet era bus stops.

The layering of social critique, art historical awareness, re-evaluation of the traditions of documentary photography, and sheer playfulness are typical of Valenzuela.

© Rodrigo Valenzuela "Stature No. 6", 2019

Rodrigo Valenzuela, Past | Present

October 2 – November 2, 2019
929 NW Flanders Street
Portland, OR 97209


Recent posts
I Can Make You Feel Good
Tyler Mitchell, a 24-year-old photographer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, aims to revitalize and elevate the Black body in his work by representing people in his own community as joyful and proud. Characterized by a use of natural light and candy-color palettes, his work visualizes a Black utopia contrasting with representations and experiences of reality, while offering a powerful and hopeful counter narrative.
Lower East Side: A Neighborhood’s Photographs
The Lower East Side, one of the most densely populated, multiethnic, and modern places in the country, has been mined by photographers for more than 100 years. While late 19th-century social reformers attempted to show “how the other half lives,” later photographers had a different, and often more personal, relationship with the neighborhood.