Raul “Iggy” Rodriguez’s third solo show, Genuflect, a social commentary on corporate greed and abuse of power, ran at the Kanto Artists-Run Space at The Collective in Makati City from May 5 to 29.

Contrary to how Catholics voluntarily kneel before the cross in utmost reverence, Rodriguez deconstructs the act of genuflection. He shows how such a ritual act of humility could be misused when powerful people force it upon subordinates.

“I see that those in power not only control those beneath them, but they also drown them with promises of development,” said Rodriguez, a graduate of the former UST College of Architecture and Fine Arts.

The exhibit’s centerpiece is “Annuit Coeptis,” a wooden altar surrounded by a triumvirate of dilapidated figures, which were discarded statues of saints from a church in Manila. The altar’s design was characterized by carvings similar to the layout of a dollar bill. This stood as Rodriguez’s critique on the imperialist influence of the United States.

Meanwhile, three pen-and-ink creations collectively called “Dismal State,” displayed images of human heads with only their mouths rendered visible. One head was covered with electric cables, one blinded by spiky vines, and the other crowned with thorns. Rodriguez explained that the artwork depicted how man is blinded by the promise of a better life, only to be manipulated by those who are in power.

Another piece titled “Eye of Providence” showed an opened eye on a turned out hand set against a dripping, red backdrop. According to Rodriguez, the hand embodied the reach and capacity of power.

“The hand is a metaphor for corporations’ abuse of their subordinates’ energy. They make their subordinates consume their physical limits in the pursuit of gaining more for themselves,” he said.

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Meanwhile, an untitled work presented the artist’s vision from different perspectives as he drew parts of the artwork separately and mounted them on a sintra board to give it a three-dimensional effect.

Back in college, Rodriguez joined UGATLahi, a group of artists who aimed to instill social consciousness through the visual arts. Since then, his works served as narratives that voiced out his critiques on controversial social issues in the country. Rodriguez was also one of the recipients of the CCP Thirteen Artists Award in 2009, when he also launched his first solo exhibit, Kimi-Imik.

Rodriguez said he believes that artists are sensitive to the things that surround them. “I look at things that happen, and I use my work to create my voice of reason,” he said.

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