In his photographic series Valenzuela challenges American culture and a simplified approach to representation by revealing his labor-intensive process of translating spaces and objects into images.
The title American Type refers to an essay by Clement Greenberg. Greenberg put Abstract Expressionist artists like Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline on the international map by famously identifying a distinctly American characteristic in Post-war art. Greenberg argued that painting was about the act of painting rather than a complex idea of representation. Following WWII America was fast becoming a great power in the world, one that could impose itself on anything.
This perception of American power is for Valenzuela still very relevant today. In this work he points to the flaws in this approach to representation. Questioning what it is about American culture that wants to create something that is devoid of content. As a culture why do we want things to be straight forward, lacking in subtext and complex critical thinking?
Being a cultural worker in America, Valenzuela feels it is his responsibility to push this conversation forward. Everything visible in the final image was created by hand. Carefully crafted sculpturalelements of plaster and graphite are structural forms when photographed, though then appear to exist on a two-dimensional plane and resemble Abstract Expressionist brush strokes.
Rodrigo Valenzuela (b. 1982, Santiago, Chile) who lives and works in Los Angeles, is an assistant professor in the Department of Art at the UCLA.
Recent solo exhibitions include Work in Its Place, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene (2018); American-Type, Orange County Museum, 2018; Labor Standards, Portland Art Museum, 2018; New Land, McColl Center, Charlotte, 2017; Prole, Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, 2016; Future Ruins, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, 2015.
His work was included in group exhibitions in following institutions: The Kitchen, NYC, 2018; MOCA, North Miami, FL, 2018; The Drawing Center, New York, 2017; Frye Art Museum, Seattle, 2016; ; Tacoma Art Museum, 2016; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2016.