The Brooklyn Rail | Estefania Velez Rodriguez

Estefania Velez Rodriguez: Time’s Passage is probably an Illusion

We feel disorientation and ecstasy as we enter Estefania Velez Rodriguez’s large-scale landscapes in Time’s Passage is probably an Illusion. Illuminated by fluorescent oil and spray paint, the pattern-rich paintings strip away the surface of the natural world to reveal the inner life of nature and of the artist. To create these composite worlds of landscape, architecture, ocean life and dreams, Velez Rodriguez began by painting from photographs of nature and architecture taken in her native Puerto Rico. These photos accompanied the Brooklyn-based artist during her 2020–21 self-directed residency with artist friends in Mexico City where she painted most of the work on view from a rooftop terrace. When the artist spoke with me, she characterized her time there by an intense feeling of belonging—it was the first period in her adult life during which she felt fully immersed in Latin American culture. Transporting us through an ongoing colonial history of Puerto Rico, as well as the imaginative universe Velez Rodriguez has envisioned, the paintings in Time’s Passage is probably an Illusion recount the journey of an artist finding herself and proclaiming her right to joy.

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