General Song, Rodrigo Valenzuela's second solo exhibition at Upfor, reimagines images of the barricade for a new series of black and white photographs. Drawing on personal experience and history in his native Chile, as well as research about other countries such as Ukraine and Venezuela, the artist focuses on simple structures that people build in times of oppression as expressions of civil disobedience. General Song also draws on Valenzuela's longtime interest in poetic resistance, specifically Pablo Neruda's Canto General, an encyclopedic poetic history of the New World told from a Latin American perspective.
Although Valenzuela's projects center on ideas of social justice and equity, his approach is always oblique and metaphorical, with equal attention given to formal concerns. Adapting a process developed for his 2015 exhibition at the Frye Art Museum, the artist staged barricades in his studio, then photographed and rephotographed the constructions. Negative reversal and small digital interventions further confound viewers’ perception of space and form.
Recently appointed to the Department of Art faculty at UCLA, Rodrigo Valenzuela (b. 1982, Santiago, Chile) completed an art history degree at the University of Chile (2004), then worked in construction while making art over his first decade in the United States, completing an MFA at University of Washington in 2012. Valenzuela’s many residencies include a Core Fellowship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Skowhegan School, Maine; Bemis Center, Nebraska; and the Center for Photography at Woodstock, New York, among others. In addition to Upfor, notable solo exhibitions include the Frye Art Museum, Seattle; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago; envoy enterprises, New York; Klowden Mann, Los Angeles and Lisa Kandlhofer, Vienna. His work is in the collections of the Frye Art Museum, Seattle; Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz and Dimensional Fund Advisors, among others. Valenzuela was in Open Sessions 10 at The Drawing Center, New York and his film The Unwaged premiers at the Portland Art Museum (Oregon) in fall of 2017.