Alan Rodriguez is a true Sanmiguelense—born, and raised in our city. He is also a fine young artist
with a great eye for color and composition, all of which he learned by doing and experimenting, with no formal training. Alan told me that he was interested in art since childhood, perhaps motivated by his older brothers who drew and painted, and he—as the baby of the family—followed. His mother used to make papier Mache figures, which she then painted, so that may have had an influence on him as well.
By the age of 16, Alan was already painting in acrylics and oils, and had even sold many of his paintings throughout the galleries in town. Over the years he has sold a lot of paintings, and these have been taken to different parts of the world. Although he himself has not yet traveled much, he knows that his works of art have homes in many cities around the globe. I asked him how he feels having to let go of these works, after laboring so lovingly on them, perhaps never to see them again. He said he treats them as his children—like giving away a daughter at the altar, and giving her permission to live out life away from you. I thought that was a very wise and introspective thought for someone so young.
A San Miguel artist whose works he admires is Edgardo Kerlegand, originally from Mexico City. Kerlegand became his teacher in drawing, helped him with technique, and has greatly influenced the works of Alan. Of the renowned artist of the past, the ones that have mostly inspired Alan’s work are paintings of Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and the Canadian artist Robert Gonsalves(1959-2017) whose surrealist images impact Alan’s work.
There is a dream-like quality in Alan’s paintings that bring the viewer into an otherworldly realm, where the familiar mingles with strange elements. However, unlike some surrealist art which appears to delve into nightmares, and incites feelings of fear or disgust, the settings created by Alan are soothing and pleasing. He says that he feels comfortable within them, they are “his environment,” and his “parallel realities.” The above painting, for example, has a lot of dark colors, but the spot of light coming down through what seems like a doorway, is like a small ray of hope in the semi darkness.
The ray of light, breaking through the darkness recurs in several of his paintings, such as in the one above, populated by strange buildings, bridges, floating structures, and a most unusual sky. Concrete structures against a diaphanous sky. Clouds, in particular have fascinated Alan for a long time.
Even as a child he remembers gazing at the horizon, the Picacho Mountains in the distance, and the fluffy clouds against the blue background of San Miguel’s skies. He imagined giants dwelling there, and tried to think of what the world would look like to them, from that environment. His paintings present a view of the world from a different the perspective. Alan’s fascination with clouds transfers into something concrete, his desire to learn how to fly, and he hopes that the sale of his art pieces will eventually provide enough funds to become a pilot.
The painting above is an excellent example of his love of nature, mingled with surreal elements. A lovely view of waves breaking beneath a cloudy sky, pleasant and quite normal. But wait! There is a doorframe, with door still attached standing foreground. And up on high floats a lighthouse, with the other common element—a beam of light. A disturbance in the nature of things that incites reflection about reality, and offers an opportunity to bring your own interpretation. That, to me, is one of the fascinating aspects of surreal art, and Alan has done it quite well.