Moon crescent, mood Indigo

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Post by Matthew Abess

Shining through each of Susan Rodriguez’s many works in the exhibit “Stealing Water from the Moon” at Indigo Arts gallery is a distinct interest the mysticism of sensual bonds and interactions. The multi-media works, mostly pastel collages and ink and stamp scrolls, display a deft fusion of varying artistic traditions – French, Tibetan, Indian and Japanese – and reveal the artist’s keen interest in the intrinsic, sacred beauty of the human form.

In her pastels, Rodriguez employs bright colors (reminiscent of Matisse’s Fauvism), working into her compositions an aura of sensuality and mystery that is augmented by Eastern motifs and fabrics. Of particular notice is “Moontalk,” (shown above) in which a couple, lit by a cut paper moon, reclines languidly upon a field of yellow, green and rouge. Though relatively small (the work is not much larger than standard letter paper), it evokes the charged sacredness of human longing and companionship.

The motif of seasons and nature plays a central role in most of the works. The ink and scroll “Crescent Moon,” for example, draws on traditional Eastern styles depicting the waxing (or perhaps waning) embrace of two nude lovers under an offset … well, crescent moon. The artist toys with humanity’s relation to nature, focusing primarily on its many reflections in the natural world.

“Stealing Water From the Moon” is at once invitingly voyeuristic and alluringly confrontational as it investigates human beauty through a fusion of cross-cultural aesthetic traditions. Ultimately, it is a fulfilling exploration of both direct and underlying sacredness.

On a side note, it is a shame that the exhibition space doubles as a retail establishment (price tags are mounted beside each work); it can be difficult to enjoy art that champions apparently sacred motifs when it is all, in reality, so readily available for sale. Stealing Water From the Moon is on display through October 31, 2004.

–Matthew Abess is a student in Colette Copeland’s class on art writing at the University of Pennsylvania.

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