Tino Rodriguez. Syncretism in Art

I dipinti di Tino Rodriguez sono un’esperienza visiva, musicale e spirituale; sono un’avventura fiabesca che esplora e sovverte le tradizionali iconografie femminili.

Una pittura che evoca visioni di melodie come fiori e il cinguettio degli uccelli in primavera, in cui la morte, esorcizzata attraverso l’allegoria, le religioni e i racconti, diventa infanzia e origine, capi opposti e fondibili di un filo immaginario. 

Malesoulmakeup: Messico and Surreal are easily recognizable in your pieces of work. Are these two variables related to each other and if so, to what extent.
Among the Mexican Surrealist Artists, who has inspired you in your education? How did you get to Surrealism?

Tino Rodriguez: Yes, being Mexican myself you will see many traces of my ancestry both family ancestry through oral story telling and mythological ancestry by reading about Aztec, Mayan, Olmec and other great cultures and informing my work through both symbols and stories in these traditions. One example would be ‘Xochipilli’s ecstatic universe’ a self portrait in whic family ancestry and mythology are involved. Xochipilli is the God of spring and flowers and art in Aztec mythology. It is also an homage to Frida Kahlo (the painted eyebrows in the shape of a bird). Nijinsky is there as well as eastern philosophy and the idea of reincarnation, etc.
Surreality is not an intellectual pursuit in my part, it is part of my surroundings now and when I was growing up. When André Breton came to Mexico to talk about Surrealism he said more or less: I came to speak about surrealism but in Mexico it seems that surrealism is everywhere… European Surrealism is very intellectual, Mexican art is very Surreal but not intentionally. It is – as I said – part of the landscape and it’s definitely more spontaneous and irrational.
Among the surrealists artists that have informed my work are not just Mexican but from all over the world and not only Surreal ones but here is a short list of the ones that pop to head now: Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, Frida  Kahlo, Leonor Fini, Max Ernst, Magritte, Salvador Dalì, Luis Bunuel, Tina Modotti, and many more. I do find the women Surrealists much more interesting and inspiring to me it seems they are more into discovering and unveiling personal stories and more emotionally charged.

Tino Rodriguez  - Xochipilli's Ecstatic Universe

Tino Rodriguez Self Portrait – Xochipilli’s Ecstatic Universe

Malesoulmakeup: Death is one of the biggest taboo in Western culture. What is like your approach to Death Symbolism?
Tino Rodriguez: Death is part of our culture. We celebrate day of the dead (Dia de los muertos) on november 2nd by going to the cementery and cleaning the tombs and bringing flowers and food to our dearly departed one. We also have picknics in the Cementery as well we bring bread, tequila or wine, candy and paper of real flowers, also bring photos and put them up while we hangout with our ancestors. Also in the market places the sell sugar skulls which children consume voraceously and this way death is not a bitter thought in ones mind but a sweet and delicious one. We are part of the cycle of life and death and stand inside not outside as in western thought.

Tino Rodriguez

Malesoulmakeup: To ward off death by using allegory, religions and ancestral stories passed on orally: the echoes of these stories can also be found in children’s fables, where death and childhood are often meant as origins of life. Two opposites mingled to one another by an imaginary line. Fables characters and children who populate your paintings, are they coming from your personal childhood memories/dreams? Or maybe they’re just symbolic references that came afterwards, with your spiritual growth.
Tino Rodriguez: Fable characters and children that come into my work, come from an endless river of inspiration. They come from both stories I have learned or heard and from dreams as well as from personal references to my own childhood but also they are collective stories coming from you, me and others through dreams and conectedness with the universe.

Tino Rodriguez – Eternal Lovers

Malesoulmakeup: Syncretism in Art: painting and music, vision of melodies like flowers, the twitter of birds in Springtime. Your paintings look like a visual and musical experience. One of your paintings includes a tribute to the amazing voice of Lisa Gerrard. Where did you get your inspiration for that portrait?
Tino Rodriguez: Musical references are a big part of my body of work. I have used titles from many songs. I love to title my own work. Bands like Cocteau Twins, Dead can dance and others specially from the Goth era were a big inspiration to me. Growing up in L.A this was one of the best things that happen because the music was abstract and beautiful but spoke of an self made language that transcended immediate communication. It is used to inspire thoughts away from the intellect as opposed to normal language. The Lisa Gerrard portrait (Spiritus Cantus) came to me and it had been in my head for like 10 years before it became tangible. It is a very symbolic and surreal portrait and it’s an homage to the voice of inspiration and love that transcends borders and language.

Tino Rodriguez – Spiritus Cantus’ (A portrait of Lisa Gerrard)

Malesoulmakeup: Tell us about your professional experience with Antony Hegarty.
Tino Rodriguez: Working with Antony Hegarty was such a lovely surprise to us and it came through our dearly beloved friend who is a personal friend of Antony. Basically we were asked if we were interested in working on a music video for Antony and we said yes immediately. We prepared for a month creating, masks, costumes and selecting all the make-up and creating the magical forest in which all the action was to take place. The challenge was dressing like two hundred bare branched trees with green foliage, flowers, birds and ponds and waterfalls in two days and that was a lot of work. But one week later and a week of sleepless nights to meet the deadlines and you have “Epilepsy is dancing” the magical vision of a group of wonderful artists that came together for a week; the Wachowskis directed the video, Sean Doresay choreographed and Virgo Paraiso and myself created the visuals for the video.
We have also create visuals for many musicians and singers: We did a wonderful photo shoot with Sussan Deyhim, Yungchen Lhamo, Antony Hegarty, two videos for Gallo (music band) coming up in which we also have cameos in them.