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Alirio Rodríguez. Photo: Alicia Ferro T.

Alirio Rodríguez


Victor Guedez

During the last days of his life, Venezuelan painter Alirio Rodríguez demonstrated the determination of his character by fighting death beyond the limitations of his strength. Sadly, he lost this battle on May 2 at the age of 84.

He leaves behind a void that can only be filled with a legacy that, in view of his passing, now redefines his already enormous contributions. He gave his life, his entire life, to his humanist convictions. Much more than coherent, his commitment was about a deep-rooted loyalty that overflowed large neo-figurative paintings and thinking inscribed in the ideas of an integral humanism which, inspired by Jacques Maritain, aspired to the fulfillment of each and every person. His positions were always incorruptible, even at a time when most intellectuals in Venezuela and the continent naively relented to the siren chants of an idyllic socialism. He always knew to resist and insist in order to keep interiority of a singular permanence.

Painting and writing were his two sources of affirmation. The former was rooted in an expressive strength of centrifugal resonance, while the later was inscribed in a centripetal introspection that allowed him to elaborate his criticism of a reality that was far from just or peaceful. There were no infertile spaces left between the extremes marked by these two interests. His figures were always inscribed in tragic connotations rooted in the struggle. Amid this environment, his characters floated like outbursts that also communicated fear and horror (but that were never overcome by them). The background always showed the hope to overcome subjugation. Everything was proposed through an enigmatic cosmos where the most spectral and infinite spaces confronted the intimate reality of a consciousness immersed in existential angst. Human beings reflected a life abandoned in the most uncertain aspect of the unknown and in open acceptance of a challenge.

This powerful, rigorously critical and denunciative approach in his painting, would become a more proactive and analytical reflection in his written manifestations. Rodríguez's commitment to Neo-Figuration made sense in the context of a New Humanism and, as result, it allowed him to keep a distance from more reactive and ideological temperaments. It must be emphasized that, in addition to the concept of Integral Humanism, Alirio Rodríguez based his work on a much more unsettling precept by Karl Jaspers pertaining to the both impotent and powerful nature of mankind. According to this, we are impotent before the laws of nature and powerful when it comes to himself. These feelings had a defining presence in Alirio Rodríguez's creative practice, but disappeared in recent years because of the reality in Venezuela. He felt pain for his country and his frustration mounted before the fragmentation process occurring in his country. Now his testimony inspires us to take on the necessary act of renovating hope.




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