Juan Luis RodrŪguez

El Combate II: "La Pirzmide"
1996. Sculptural project for the Bienal de S‚o Paulo

by Ileana Alvarado venegas

Pyramid: Combat 2

"The obsession of getting near stars and planets caused modern man to neglect the earth in the wish to reach the invisible... Maybe that is the reason why the pyramids are the most ancient representation of power."
Juan Luis Rodržguez

The beliefs, dreams, illusions and hopes of human beings transcend their creator in so far as he gives them life as ephemeral or permanent presences that perpetuate the image of the concept or of the visual reality.

Within this continuous concern to make human subjectivity concrete, some artists use materials in a rational way - without abandoning emotivity - aiming at obtaining a wholeness from the matter itself, not only physical but also conceptual. The work by Juan Luis Rodržguez Sibaja is an evident example of this need of matter to communicate its own language through artistic creation.

Pictorial constructions made of crushed stones together with powdered colors and pigments, ephemeral sculptures made of materials such as ice, pieces of canvas and other things, torn slits elaborated with different techniques of metal engravings and a coherent theoretical stance which is manifest in his didactic activity and in several written texts are some of the elements that determine the pioneer feature of the creative work of Rodržguez in his country, Costa Rica.

La Pirzmide (Combate No. 2) is irretrievably linked to El Combate, a work shown at the VI Biennale Internationale de Paris in 1969, when he was one of the representatives of France in the condition of foreign artist. A boxing ring measuring 2 meters by 2 meters, the true "image of power," was the stage on which the three acts took place; the first was formed by a question mark made up of ice died in vivid red, that melted leaving bloody marks on which perched - in the second act - two chairs of different sizes also made up of ice and in the same red color; the only remnant of the symbolic fight being the enlarged red stain on the floor. The last scene reproduces the coronation of the winner - a wooden red-stained chair whose back was shaped like a boxing glove that looks down admiringly on the result of its victory. The scenes progress accompanied by the sound of trumpets, trains, airplanes and an interview, by the artist, of two retired boxers.

La Pirzmide is based on the general concept present in Combate: "the use and abuse of power." This time the fight among men is established by one of the better-known formal and conceptual representations of power, which raised and still raises questions. La Pirzmide is vivid red and it is built with ice which, according to a statement by Rodržguez, is a material made up of one of the indestructible ephemeral elements: water. On its top is raised a question mark which stresses the idea of mystery and difficult access to this old and significant geometric form.

The sound of the different elements of nature is, at the same time, part and counterpart as it establishes a permanent tension in this eternal fight among men to obtain power and which is also caused by their need to establish an harmonic contact with nature so as to guarantee their survival.

Born in San JosŽ, Costa Rica, in 1934. In 1957 his first solo exhibition took place at the USA/Costa Rica Cultural Center, in San JosŽ. With a grant awarded by the French government he travels to Paris to study metal engraving at the School of Fine Arts in Paris. Since 1961 he is continuing his studies in the Netherlands and has participated in many exhibitions and was awarded many prizes.

Solo exhibitions

El Combate, Salas de Exposiciones Temporales de los Museos del Banco Central de San JosŽ, Costa Rica.
Instituto Nacional de Seguros, San JosŽ, Costa Rica.
Retrospectiva de 10 a~os de su trabajo, Museo Nacional en San JosŽ, Costa Rica.
Hospital Belle-Isle, Metz, France.
Galerža Horn, Luxemburg; Galerža Club Ibero-Americano, Bonn, Germany.

Group exhibitions

Semana de la Cultura Centroamericana en Europa, Museos del Banco Central, San JosŽ, Costa Rica; Semana de la Cultura Centroamericana en Europa, Brussels, Belgium.
Primera Bienal de Grabado Europeo, Espacio Cultural de Lorient, Brittany, France.
X Bienal de Gravura, Museu de Gravura, Curitiba, Brazil; Juan Luis Rodržguez, Museo de Arte Costarricense, San JosŽ, Costa Rica; Kunst aus Costa Rica, Sprengel Museum, traveling exhibition, Hannover, Germany.
Grafix Aus Costa Rica, IFA Galerie, Institut f∆r Auslandsbeziehungen, Bonn, Germany.
I Bienal de La Habana, Havana, Cuba.
IV Bienal del Grabado Latinoamericano, Instituto de Cultura Puertorrique~o, Escuela de Artes Plzsticas de la Facultad de Bellas Artes, Universidad de Costa Rica, San JosŽ, Costa Rica.
Bienal Internacional de S‚o Paulo, Brazil.
XIII Salon de Grands et Jeunes d'Aujourd'hui, Grand Palais des Champs-ElysŽes, Paris, France.
26Íme Salon de Mai, Centre Culturel de Saint Germain en Lay, France; 8Íme Biennale de Menton, France.
El Combate, IX Biennale de Paris, France.
Dix Ans de CrŽation dans les Lettres et les Arts, Palacio de Radio y Televisi?n, Paris, France; 3Íme Salon d'Art Graphique, Union des Artistes d'Ivry, Parc de la Mairie d'Ivry, France.


Premio Unico del Sal?n de los Maestros, VI Bienal L&S de Pintura Costarricense, Costa Rica.
PrŤmio Aquileo J. Echeverrža, two prizes; Premio Ancora de Oro, La Naci?n.
I Sal?n Anual de Artes Plzsticas, gold medal, Museo Nacional de Costa Rica.