All Hail, Edel Rodriguez

With one exception, this blog has not been a place for politics.  But, a little over one year after that first politically minded post, I’m making another one.

Today, I celebrate the power of art to convey messages.  Cuban-born artist Edel Rodriguez has done a number of magazine covers that, with their simple lines and saturated colors, comment on our President more effectively than any writing or photographs ever could.  This Time cover from January ranks high on my list of favorites, referencing not only Michael Wolff’s controversial book Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House and Trump’s threat to rain ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’ on North Korea, but also Trump’s dumpster fire of a presidency.

trump-yearone

Here are some other gems:

trump-toddler in chieftrump-meltdown

trump-kim jong un
Translation: Deadly Game: Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un risk nuclear war
trump-end of the world
Translation: The End of the World (as we know it)
trump-en jahr danach
Translation: Washington, one year later

trump-descent of mantrump-baby

In the last couple of months, I’ve regretted that I haven’t lived closer to Portland, Oregon, where the advertising agency, Wieden + Kennedy, mounted an aptly titled exhibit of Rodriguez’s Trump-themed work.

trump-agent orange
Agent Orange: toxic indeed.

In his career, Rodriguez has, via his art, taken on issues and figures other than Trump.  In a recent interview, he was asked if he sought controversy.  His response:

“Controversy is very unpredictable, so I don’t know if I seek it, but I do welcome it when it happens. I think it’s a good thing for an image and magazine cover, since starting a conversation is really the main point of a cover. The truth can be controversial I suppose. These are stories we are experiencing every day. It’s like having an abusive father, but everyone is quiet about it. Finally, when one of the kids takes a picture of the abuse and shows it to the world, it’s visually shocking, but it was there the whole time. I’m just putting a focus on our nation’s daily abuse. When people see my work, there’s sometimes a release of emotions, like finally, the viewer feels that they are not alone, that they are not crazy, that someone else sees what they see. That’s a very important aspect of what I do I believe, at a time when their president is messing with their minds…

The key is to be honest, to put down what you actually feel, the disgust you may have, the anger, and the outrage. It’s important to refrain from censoring those feelings, to question yourself too much. I usually get there in a very direct way. Sometimes artists want to put everything into an image, but I find it effective to be very simple, it connects on a deeper level with viewers.”

There you have it, this blog’s dose of politics for 2018.


Trivia tidbit: Rodriguez came to the United States when he was nine, in 1980, as part of the Mariel boatlift.

edel rodriguez boatlift
That’s Rodriguez holding his coat over his face.

14 comments

  • Thanks for collecting all these images for us to see. I’d seen some of them before, but not all of them. He does a great job conveying the insanity of this presidency and this time. I also read the article you linked to for even more information — so interesting.

    We are living in a crazy time. My twins were old enough to vote in the 2016 election; I was sad that their first voting experience ended in this fiasco of a government. I’m hoping the House gets flipped first, and THEN Mueller gets Trump *and* Pence out.

    I love the picture of Rodriguez with his studio behind him. I’m lucky enough to have a small sewing room (we added a bit to the house in 2011), but I still love to see pictures of other people’s work/craft spaces.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, and for commenting, Melanie. There are so many more of Rodriguez’s images available out there on line. (Some of the ones included in the Portland exhibit were a bit too risque to post here.) We are, indeed, living in crazy times. Remember when we were in Tuebingen and our German Uni mates were scandalized by President Reagan? That seems an innocent time compared to now, no?

      Liked by 1 person

  • Thanks for the introduction to Rodriguez. I had seen the Spiegel images, but for some reason incorrectly assumed they were from a German artist. I still like the “Bedtime for Brezhnev” poster I had on my door in Studo and the controversy that ensued as the German students didn’t quite understand its irony and satire!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, John. I think I remember that Bedtime for Brezhnev poster: was it for a faux movie that included parts played by Kissinger and Castro, among others?

      Like

    • [Can I say how much I LOVE the fact that my 85 year-old mother is engaging with this particular material? Way to go, Mom! Thanks for passing it on…JDB]

      Like

        • (Ah, Devo! “Whip It” was part of my college soundtrack). Homo infantalis is genius…I think Edel Rodriguez needs to adopt, with proper attribution, “The Devolution to Homo Infantalis” as the caption for that particular illustration.

          Liked by 1 person

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