JAVO Returns to Art Center with New Work and New Perspectives

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Pictured: Multiverse (67 x 26 2021, mixed media) depicts a young girl in all her gleaming, youthful energy. Photo courtesy of JAVO.

When Javier Rodriguez’s (JAVO) 2020 exhibition at the Art Center opened, it had a rather long shadow cast over it. The pandemic took a big red pen and drew an X through the opening reception, and anxiety around in-person engagements meant that few visitors if any stopped by to take a look at his rich, colorful, bold work. But Rodriguez took it all in stride. “It’s good to have an open space to share you work, of course,” he says, “but it wasn’t a big deal for me because I stayed very busy with art installation and I’m always producing new work anyway.”

Throughout the pandemic, JAVO found that the art installation company he helps operate with fellow artist, Zach Gilliland, continued growing as the demand for residential installs actually ticked upward. “A lot of people lost their jobs or were afraid to go to work,”  he says, “so I was just happy to keep busy.”

At first, he managed to maintain a psychic boundary of sorts, one that kept his own artistic practice separate from the hundreds of paintings he was hanging on walls. “My strategy was to treat it as something completely separate,” JAVO says, “but lately I’ve stopped being so careful about how I let the work influence me. I kind of embrace it now.” That freedom from expectation, that openness to the world around you, that permeability between his interior and exterior worlds, is in many ways on full display with his “Revisited” exhibition at Art Center.

The exhibition features mostly new work painted between his cancelled show in 2020 and work he completed late last year. It contains his characteristic strong lines, his figurative focus, his playful yet sensible use of color—all rendered into dreamy tableaus. But one piece in particular speaks to the sense of freedom he found during the pandemic.

“Multiverse” (2021, mixed media) is based on the daughter of a family member that came to visit him and his wife late last year. “She has a head full of so much information and she’s really artistic,” says JAVO, “and I was just really inspired by her personality.” Without really planning on it, he found himself referring back to some photos he took of her during her stay, and the result is a tall vertical canvas bristling with youthful energy and honesty. The child figure’s gaze is nonchalant, unapologetic, graceful and knowing, as though she knows full well what she is and where she fits in the world. “I remember when she introduced herself to me she told me her name and that she was artistic,” says JAVO, “and i was like, ‘wow, I want that kind of freedom too.’ So this was me trying to capture that.”

“Revisited” runs through March 5th at Art Center.

Pictured: Multiverse (67 x 26 2021, mixed media) depicts a young girl in all her gleaming, youthful energy. Photo courtesy of JAVO.

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