February 18, 2021

POSTED BY

Rafael Esquer

CATEGORY

Abel Rodriguez, Painting Ancestral Knowledge From Memory

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I have a crazy love, an obsession for details. It is this obsession that led me, over 10 years ago, to start the Iconic Series. A set of maps made up of hundreds of icons capturing the city — places of worship, bridges, architecture, museums, notable people, trivia, popular culture, …

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I have a crazy love, an obsession for details. It is this obsession that led me, over 10 years ago, to start the Iconic Series. A set of maps made up of hundreds of icons capturing the city — places of worship, bridges, architecture, museums, notable people, trivia, popular culture, parks and gardens, statues and monuments, public art, local legends and more. It is this addiction to fine details that made me stop when I first saw the work of Colombian creator —and much more—Abel Rodriguez.

An elder of the Muinane community near the headwaters of the Cahuinari River in the Colombian Amazon. Rodriguez, whose ethnic name is Mogaje Guihu says that his real work is passing on the stories of the indigenous plants learned from his uncle, a sabedor (man of knowledge). Rodriguez knows every plant of the region he grew up in, their life cycles, the animals and insects the plants interact with, how they rot and how they seed, what they cure and what they kill. And draws everything from memory.

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His mission is, through meticulously detailed drawings of the Colombian Amazon, to preserve the indigenous knowledge of the region’s flora and fauna and to share his knowledge with future generations. He didn’t study art nor considers himself an artist. He does it because he wants to show his landscapes with the most intricate care, meticulously rendering each leaf in his dense tree canopies or on his lush forest floors given each living thing its distinct representation to ensure that every living plant in the Colombian amazon is accounted for.

Climate change and increasing violence continuous to devastate the area, Rodriguez drawings are becoming the most comprehensive records of a world that is quickly disappearing.

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Ciclo anual en las altas terrazas de la selva tropical (Annual cycle in the high terraces of the rainforest, 2007), ink on paper, 50 x 70 cm.
Courtesy Abel Rodriguez and Tropenbos International Colombia
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From the rain forest landscapes by Abel Rodriguez, part of his ink-and-watercolor series Ciclo anual del bosque de la vega (Seasonal changes in the flooded rain forest)
Abel Rodriguez/Courtesy of Tropenbos International, Colombia
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Terraza Alta III (2018), Abel Rodríguez. Courtesy of the artist and Instituto de Visión

All images ©Abel Rodriguez