Growing up in Santiago, Chile, artist Francisco Rodríguez loved watching cartoons from the US and Europe but especially from Japan. “Japanese animation was extraordinarily famous during the 90s in Chile, maybe because they were cheaper to buy,” Francisco tells us. “Throughout my childhood, I was very influenced by these cartoons – it makes me think this could be one of the reasons why my paintings are quite graphic with solid colours and very delimited drawings.”
Looking at Francisco’s work it’s not difficult to see how cartoons have influenced his paintings. There’s a filmic quality to the way he draws shadow, with masked baddies towering ominously, often out of shot – sitting somewhere between a stylised screen villain and a vivid nightmare. Moreover, many of his works are split into cells, calling to mind comic strips, and giving the canvases the sense of ongoing narratives. “I used to draw many comics when I was a teenager but it’s a world that I am not very acquainted with,” says Francisco. “Still I think this aesthetic is something that comes naturally, unconsciously, though there is no conceptual intention.”
But while some of Francisco’s inspiration came from afar beamed in through the TV, the remnants of a post-industrial landscape in his Santiago neighbourhood also provided a fertile creative ground. “So many of my memories are entangled with images of transmission towers, industrial workers, and stray dogs,” says Francisco. “These landscapes, next to films, books and music helped me to create an imaginary world that gives an account of both references from my life, but also of feelings and sensations regarding violence, alienation, loneliness, and nostalgia.”
Having graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art this summer, Francisco is currently preparing a solo exhibition called Utopías y Desvelos (Utopias and Sleeplessness)_ at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) in his home city of Santiago. He’ll also be included in this year’s Bloomberg New Contemporaries, which opens at Liverpool Biennial in July.