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Paths, Found Rocks, and Moss

Rafael La Madrid

March 9 - 30, 2024

Press Release

Finding Life, Surprising

Paths, Found Rocks, and Moss by Rafael La Madrid invites us on a journey through the unforeseen interplay of nature and its elements. With a piece of rock, the artist realized how mysterious life truly is. One of the models for his lifelike oil paintings is a mossy, craggy rock with just the tiniest bit of green leaves sprouting. A wonderful story to tell behind the image is that the central object within started dry and smooth, yet curiosity and the artist’s restless spirit compelled him to water the rock every day, not knowing what to expect. Surprisingly, after a few months of doing this repetitive activity, life sprouted. Through his masterful strokes in rendering this moment in oil, La Madrid shows his viewers the intricate connections between life, renewal, and the inherent beauty in both the organic and inanimate.

Each brushstroke from La Madrid unveils hidden stories of growth and transformation. His canvases depict interior and exterior scenes where the boundaries between the natural world and human viewpoints blur. Through meticulous attention to detail, he captures the essence of new life taking root amidst the rugged landscapes: a copse of trees reaching deep into the soil, hidden passages amidst layers of rock, a view from within a cave looking out into the light, overgrown tree trunks, and exposed roots. With breathtakingly detailed pieces, he references larger forms of nature, such as mountains, to refer to their smaller-pieced parts, dwelling not only in their magnanimity but also in the elements that help life grow, such as water and sunlight.

The artist's compositions draw us in, inviting us to wander along winding paths that suddenly appear, trace the intricate patterns of moss-covered stones, branches, and fully grown trees, and marvel at the resilience of life emerging from unexpected places. He also draws inspiration from literature, specifically The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, or more memorably, that of two roads diverging in a narrow wood. Viewers are transported into vistas of wonder and inner contemplation as they are pulled into the image and invited to engage with La Madrid's works. The intentional labeling of his artworks integrates text into the image, adding another layer of meaning and reinforcing the artist's seeming impulsion to further draw us into awe.

Paths, Found Rocks, and Moss challenges us to reconsider our perceptions of beauty and growth and show us how light illuminates each minute surface it touches, giving not only gravitas to the frozen moment but also hope and luminosity despite darkness. As La Madrid's exploration of the unexpected reminds us of nature's ability to thrive in the most unlikely of environments, given an artist's loving care, he also encourages us to embrace serendipitous moments of discovery, finding solace in the ever-unfolding cycle of renewal.

Kaye O'Yek

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