Ana Rodriguez practices a thoughtful but passionate deconstruction of the decorative floral motif genre in painting and sculpture. Her supercharged palette and vocabulary of patterns and gestural mark-making — stripes, polka dots, leaves, petals, swirls, swoops, dabs, smushes, dollops and drips — reference conventions of still life and other ceremonial botanical arrangements. At the same time these optical citations are pulled apart and reassembled in a manner that speaks to the troubled and relentlessly gendered, ethnicized and classist roots of traditional symbols of beauty, love, and desire. Her exhibition Floral Ritual is on view at Launch Gallery through July 24.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ANA RODRIGUEZ: I was six years old in kindergarten painting smudges under a tree. I knew at that moment that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
I tell them that it has a lot to do with pattern and decoration from the apartments, clothes, and decorations that my mother would use in our home.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
That’s a difficult question, I would want to do so many things, pilot, astronaut, art therapist, occultist writer, traveling the world, opening an orphanage, teaching art.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Cal State Long Beach in 2006 and received a Master’s Degree from Otis College of Art and Design in 2009. I wanted to learn how to talk about my artwork and listen to others talk about their work and their process. I have great memories and also horrible memories. Like being broke, not understanding how to read art critics’ writing, and being the only Xicana my first year of grad school in the program.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I was born in East L.A. and my roots are here; I love L.A. We have everything available — mountains, ocean, different cultures.
When was your first show?
In the fourth grade I was commissioned to draw a portrait of an officer who was killed in my neighborhood. I grew up in Maywood in the 80’s early 90’s and there was a lot of gang violence in my city. There was a hit on the police officer from one of the major gangs in my city.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
Current show is at Launch Gallery that runs till July 24. The title is Floral Ritual.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
Yvette Mayorga, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Pepón Osorio, Liat Yossifor, Asad Faulwell, Kour Pour. All these artists inspire me in different ways from their painting techniques, installation, performative aspects, history, and decoration.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
90’s industrial, death metal, black metal, and Japanese koto.