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Collection Development

On Our Radar: Art that lies between documentary & fiction

In the ongoing series “On our Radar,” Weingarten Art Group spotlights emerging talent whom we’re watching closely. Find more artists “On Our Radar” here.

Who: Chilean-born video artist and photographer Rodrigo Valenzuela, currently a Core program fellow at the Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

What he’s known for: Poignant, sometimes painful images and installations that deconstruct social issues typically not in the zeitgeist of American society. Valenzuela reinterprets underground trends to reveal opposing views that often find poetic beauty in unexpected subjects.

What’s being said about him: In a panel conversation called “Why We Make,” Valenzuela spoke about why he became an artist. The answer was captured by writer Jen Graves in an article for The Stranger.

There was art school, he said, but he equally credited watching the repetitive labor of his father, a mailman, and grandfather, a carpenter, plus “hours and hours and hours” of television and movies dubbed from Hollywood, which were something like magazine-cut-out ransom notes rather than smooth illusions.

The slides of Valenzuela’s work were some of his portraits of people existing on the borders of documentary and fiction — people like him, and the rest of this city of old transplants and new natives all mixed up together.

From “Rodrigo Valenzuela: 2013 Genius Award Winner for Art” by Jen Graves.

October 2, 2013.

Learn more about artist Rodrigo Valenzuela, including upcoming exhibitions, here.

Image: Courtesy of the artist, Toward Hedonic Reversal No. 1, 2014, archival pigment print, artist frame, 54 x 44 inches.