Iggy Rodriguez, the artist as a conscious political being
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANLA — Iggy Rodriguez is a political activist and an artist. For him, his work as an artist is enriched and given meaning by his activism, and his work as an activist is also improved by the discipline he has cultivated as an artist.
Currently the coordinator for the Makabayan coalition of political parties and its chapter in the National Capital Region (NCR), Rodriquez is also a core group member of the Tutok Karapatan Artists’ Initiatives and the well-known group that makes the impressive effigies that are burned during important political protests the UGAT Lahi Artist Collective. His work in these organizations are considerable, but he manages to juggle his workload through discipline.
Discipline is a crucial thing with Rodriguez. Born Raoul Ignacio Mallillin Rodriguez in Zamboanga, the 37-year old artist was not “born” with the innate ability to draw or paint.
“It was something I willed myself to do,” he explained.
In grade school, he watched classmates and friends draw images in their notebooks, and while he himself was not inclined to draw at that time, he liked the idea.
“I liked the idea of creating images, of copying ones that I liked. I found it interesting. I didn’t do it myself, but I liked seeing the work of others,” he said.
His elder brother often brought home comic books (“Marvel Comics, Heavy Metal, that sort of thing”) and he was amazed at what he saw.
“It was like seeing the world interpreted in a different way. The way the characters were drawn, the scenery, the entire conceptualization and consequent rendering. Before then I didn’t know that there was such a way to depict the world,” he shared.
The beginning of his journey as an artist officially began, however, when he was forced to stay in the library one afternoon in high school. Rodriguez can’t recall the exact circumstances that led to his afternoon detention in the library (“Maybe it was raining, I don’t remember), but he will never forget the artist that first inspired him to try to be one himself. He found a book on Pablo Picasso and his work during his so-named Blue Period.
(Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com)
“I was affected by the images themselves and how they were rendered. I was only a high school student, but I’d already heard of Picasso even then. That afternoon was the first time I’d really looked — I mean looked– at his work and I told myself that I would work hard to be a painter, an artist myself,” he said.
Rodriquez has no qualms about admitting that he only learned to draw and paint in college at the University of Sto. Tomas where he took a course in fine arts and advertising. He said whatever talent he has, he cultivated and honed it by studying and constant practice. He literally taught himself to draw, pushing and goading himself until wielding a pen or a paintbrush became second nature to him.
“Many artists are said to be innately talented and that they are able to create merely from sheer inspiration, goaded by a muse of their own making. I didn’t start off like that, and up to now I cannot say that I need to be inspired to create. My own process of creating art always starts with me confronting myself with the necessity to create: tired or not, inspired or not, I need to be always practicing my craft and I want to be always learning ways to improve it,” he said. His right index finger has a rough callus, a testament to his daily routine of drawing at least one hour a day and more on days when his schedule permits..... MORE