San Francisco

Peter Rodriguez

Galeria de la Raza

Peter Rodriguez, whose work has been seen in the past at some of Northern California’s better galleries, has had a show of paintings at the Galeria de la Raza, which exhibits the work of Chicano artists of established reputation as well as newer artists whose work might not otherwise be seen at all. In his palette Rodriguez reminds me of Robert Natkin; in line and composition he is completely different. Where Natkin tends toward the rectilinear and classical, in a gently brushed way, Rodriguez uses circles—many of the paintings are tondi—both as pictorial elements and as devices for organizing the painting as a whole. Although I hesitate to categorize him as an Abstract Expressionist, the hopeful and ebullient spirit of the 1950s certainly radiates from his canvas. He paints with great energy and plays upon the emotions associated with the natural environment in a place where sunshine is plentiful.

The art life of Northern California, where there is little market and not much more collective stimulation, allows artists to escape the pressures of the herd to some extent. If he were in New York, Rodriguez might be working in a different way; as things are, he paints in what now looks like a very personal if not especially up-to-the-minute style.

Jerome Tarshis