'For some time, Andy Warhol has conceded us 15 minutes of fame. That being the case, the prerequisite was to have an accident. That tricky media-worthy relevance would not spare Marilyn, Elvis, or Mao. Their faces were sufficiently important to be worthy of being remembered, reworked, and converted into a treasured object or icon for posterity. Why is one life more important than another? And more importantly, who is interested in making us think this way?
Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada started making urban art more than 15 years ago in New York City. A founder of the artistic direction known as 'culture jamming,' he is a Cuban-born artist based in New York and Barcelona. This is not banal biographical information added to satisfy the curiosity of curators in search of the 'exotic artists' or for art professionals whose value scale is based on the passport.
Rodriguez-Gerada creates portraits in charcoal of people-until now anonymous-which scale the walls of buildings in our cities in a format that we can begin to describe as gigantic. They are gigantically defying, proud and dignified, more social than political. But let us not be mistaken, the art piece is not the charcoal drawing. The artistic process begins with the search for the city, the building, and most importantly the person to be depicted. This person must have a sense of belonging to the city that hosts the artwork, and must accept being converted into a monumental hero (like those of modernity described and defended by Baudelaire.) Rodriguez-Gerada's protagonists become Goliaths confronting the powerful King Davids of politics and advertising. They reclaim the public spaces that have been snatched from our hands by advertisers anxious to sell us perfect men and women, and politicians, who against all the evidence, want to convince us that they are perfect.
What defines identity, that fragile and inconsistent-but necessary-sensation of being? This search is in fact one of the most arduous tasks in life-especially for an artist, and particularly for Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada.
His achievements, his coherence, and the grandeur of the humanity in his work, place him among the best artists of our generation. Using words which are not my own, his 'identities occupy the canvas of our cities, populating them with the marvelous residual essence of it people.'
F. Javier Briongos Ibanez