The Cité International des Arts held an open house last week, allowing some of the over 300 residents an opportunity to share their work. Many people wandered into my studio, one of them being David Rodriguez, a Paris-based artist originally from Bogota Colombia. We quickly discovered a shared love of flea markets and this past weekend he showed me the prime spots at Marché aux Puce St-Ouen. On the way I visited his studio (located under a former train track), where he is preparing for an exhibition at the 59th Salon de Montrouge.
Rodriguez's current body of work was sparked by a part-time job working at a Parisian confectioner's shop just steps from the Louvre. Dressed in a bright yellow apron, he peddled "old-timey" tins of cookies and candies to tourists. The garish colours of the marketing and store fixtures created a reaction and he began painting miniature pornographic scenes on damaged and discarded tins. Because he uses a similar palette to the product, the nude figures are not instantly apparent. He is now working with older tins (flea market finds), using the text and original product as inspiration.
Work that could be construed as misogynistic, on closer examination reveals a humour, sensitivity and egalitarian attitude. Instead of women being subjugated, it is the fantasy past depicted by the biscuit tin company being subverted. The reworked antique tins remind me of a mechanic's garage or basement workshop; spare nuts and nails in coffee cans standing beside pin-up girls have been melded together with outlandish subtlety. There is the spirit of the outsider artist here, too: a raw pleasure in both execution and tongue-in-cheek intent. By exploring taboo subject matter that is nonetheless prevalent in print and digital media, Rodriguez invites viewers to react to their perceptions of sexuality. In some viewers this experience sees their subconscious glossing over the nudes to replace them with bonbons or bolts.