By Catherine Somzé
Leisure and pleasure are peacetime's weapons — boredom and a latent feeling of insecurity, the inevitable outcome of consumer society's technologies of the self.
US artist Terry Rodgers portrays contemporary body politics while playing
on the very strategy dramatized in his XIXth century-like grandes machines:
visual pleasure and unspeakable desire. With exquisite detail and generous
brushstrokes, the numerous figures, objects and other furniture pieces
cluster in equal opulence following the lines of sophisticated and dense
compositions. Operating as fields of semantic resonances, the pictures
present colors, shapes and motives that together create new, unexpected
meanings that reveal Rodgers' concern for questions of class,
gender and identity.
Echoing the very content of the paintings, the compositions' process of creation gathers street models photographed separately, an imaginary meeting which first takes place on a computer screen. They constitute impossible encounters, tight aggregates of elementary particles, so intimate, yet unable to get acquainted with each other.
Most frequently drawn to the composition by a foreground figure en repoussoir,
the spectator in turn gets snared in a web of objectifying gazes, running
in an endless loop, in and out of the frame, ultimately coming back on
itself. Terry's figures are pillars of salt emptied and petrified by the
power of their own stare, they look inwards.
Influenced by Velàzquez and Degas, Terry Rodgers' lines migrate from shaping figures to structuring the composition; whether the setting is a room, a backyard, or a pool surrounding, they work as display windows for a taxonomy of manners in profit-driven societies. Terry Rodgers' monumental canvases spread as visual narratives of speech turned sterile and the paradoxical unease at relating to each other in a hyper-mediated environment.
In between the skins, almost imperceptible, hover the sighs of this army of bodies, self-disciplined in the name of Beauty and Wealth. However, as much as they seem to have completely integrated those models of conduct, the nonchalance of their poses disclose the body's natural deformities, as if they were signs of an ultimate and innate resistance.
These are but a few of the many intricate dialectical processes through which Terry Rodgers' paintings reveal themselves as ways of seducing us and subsequently throwing us back into reflective awareness. Ultimately, Terry Rodgers' paintings invite us to give body to our own vision and start to look at each other again.
Catherine Somzé, Amsterdam 2005