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Lucha Rodriguez spills her guts in Fluoressence

Artist's Forward Arts Foundation solo show hums with animated energy

A vision in Bubble Yum pink, Venezuelan artist Lucha Rodriguez dresses in some shade of Barbie every day. Like an Andy Warhol superstar touched down in Atlanta, the artist extends the fascinations of her artwork to her day-to-day life.


Beyond her sartorial whimsy, Rodriguez has an utterly eccentric point of view. Her visual idiosyncrasies helped snag her the coveted 2010-2011 Forward Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award, an annual grant given to an Atlanta artist without gallery representation and who hasn't had a solo show. The award finalists, whose work can also be seen now at the Swan Coach House Gallery, are an equally accomplished lot: Meg Aubrey, Chung-Fan Chang, Hope Hilton and Dorothy O'Connor. Rodriguez's Forward Arts Foundation solo show Fluoressence is a formally top-notch, idea-rich stew of some of the artist's obsessions, including the body and the aesthetics of sci-fi special effects.

Three-dimensional cut paper forms are Rodriguez's metier. The principally white, ethereal shapes look like bas relief doodles, swirling, looping forms like those paper snowflakes you unfurl from flat to three-dimensional. Rodriguez often uses hot pink on their undersides, which gives the pieces a magical glow, like the undercarriage of a souped-up car lit with neon.

Pink is central to much of Rodriguez's work, the better to emphasize her bodily fixations. Rodriguez's father is a surgeon and it shows in her preoccupation with a color that often suggests guts, sinew and blood. Likewise, her snaking viscera shapes resemble intestines or lung tissue and all the gooey stuff lurking beneath flesh.

In the outlandish installation piece "Mega Melo Creaturette Fluorescente," cut paper forms encircle a gallery wall like a calligraphic cancer. Round the corner and those clouds of lacy paper explode like a tumor spreading beneath the surface. Her cut paper forms have an avidity, a potential to consume and envelope like parasites and pathogens. In another component of "Mega Melo Creaturette Fluorescente," a clear pink plexiglass tube projects from a white tangle of paper like an inflamed tuber. Place an ear to the end of the lewd pink snake, and the dripping of water is audible. The sound element is temperamental and doesn't necessarily add to the piece — the work succeeds when it is merely suggestive of bodily operations.

Much of the work focuses on matter, but a second strain delves into the mind. In larger works such as "Fluorescencia Cuadrangular," spidery paper forms hang like gaseous clouds around plexiglass triangles, rectangles and other graphic monoliths. The works evoke the aesthetics of vintage movie special effects or Pink Floyd album covers, with their floating shapes, prisms and rainbow laser beams. Geeked out but girly, Rodriguez's Zardoz lexicon suggests a femme answer to sci-fi special effects nerds like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

Both frilly and wicked, Rodriguez's work hums with animated energy. But beneath that buzz, Rodriguez tackles heady ideas, of the barriers between outside and in, between the seen world and the hidden ones of the body and the imagination.


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