Arnaldo Roche’s paintings explore the inherent limits of communication, the process of making art and the confusion of living one’s life in an atmosphere of uncertainty—but that’s not what’s most interesting about his works. After all, myriad artists have taken on those very topics to the extent that such ambiguities have become the bread and butter of postmodern discourse. What’s most interesting about Arnaldo Roche’s paintings is his approach. The work contains none of the cerebral snark—the postmodern art-theory shop talk—that makes so much contemporary art unapproachable, or obnoxious, or both, and neither does it shroud itself in opaque mysticism. Instead, Roche engages in a visceral and emotional search for meaning, presenting the viewer with dreamscapes barely holding together, and images full of impassioned brushstroke and arresting form. His most recent works, currently on display at the Chicago Cultural Center in a remarkable show titled “Brotherhood/Hermanidad,” quite simply must be seen to be believed Roche’s techniques form intimate, expressive connections among subject, artist and work. He wraps his subject in a canvas, and paints that subject’s form by feel rather than by sight, the result of which process he calls a “rubbing.” As the artist himself explains it, “It’s ritualistic human interaction. More than a ritual it’s a process to discover myself… I’m touching bones, muscles and fingernails… How close can I get?… It’s life that becomes painting; sculpture that becomes painting.” Roche thereby “eliminates the distance between art and reality.” (Drew Messinger-Michaels)
Through June 22 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington.