Modern Magnanimity

Artist Spotlight: Diego Rodriguez-Warner

Diego Rodriguez-Warner in Studio

Sometimes I think it is rare to be surrounded by greatness in everyday life. There are so many incredible talents, epic challenges, and unparalleled successes in our world, that we can almost only seek them out as relics in museums or so called “books”.

“The magnanimous person…seems to be the one who thinks himself worthy of great things and is really worthy of them.”
— Aristotle’s "Nicomachean Ethics"

I find myself in awe of greatness in Diego Rodriguez-Warner, my dear friend, favorite artist, and half of the mind-dancing duo behind Leon’s upcoming show, Left Ajar: Plastic Old and Our Bright Shiny Future Together. I am one day away from seeing the completed vision at Leon gallery, but I've been privileged enough to watch his process leading up to the opening. With his college buddy, and clear mutual muse, Diego and Matthew J. Mahoney are sure to offer an artistic experience which I can assure you, will make you cooler just by being in the same room.

I stand by that ridiculous statement, not only because it’s true, but because I believe in Diego Rodriduez Warner, and he sure as hell believes in his gifts and mind lazering art he has to offer the world. He will not stand down. He will not appease your palette. And he certainly won’t apologize for his greatness.

To delve a little deeper into the subject of Magnanimity, or the virtue of Greatness, cozy up with Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

While visiting his studio prior to his show, Diego seemed in turmoil about when he would get to the point in developing his often gigantic, painstakingly carved, then painted, then stenciled, then caressed pieces, when it would all get to be “too much”. An unusual goal.

And yet I trust in him to exceed even the wildest of his own imagination when given the opportunity to have all of his recent works displayed in one place, as opposed to the scrappy array you see here from my pre-exhibition visit.   (See collage layouts above for a peak at the process. End product at the bottom.)

This is what you will be greeted with upon your arrival at Leon…

Diego’s pieces could be interpreted as being too much in their often aggressive or violent characters and depictions, the clashing, loudness of his colors and textures, and even in their scale and the realization of how much work went into each piece if you’re lucky enough to see it up close. What I walk away with after each visit, and I know that little evil genius is laughing not so quietly about, is that he has created far too many great works of art to be properly absorbed in a tiny little gallery. And yet he’s not allowed to play at the big boy institutions (read "accessible outlets")  where he belongs.

Diego and his creative partner for Left Ajar, Matthew J. Mahoney further challenge this pristine, rules game notion, by setting this tremendous ego aside, and playing together. Surely creative sacrifice was made, and a sharing of the hard to come by spotlight, but my heart knows they did it in the name of art.

Similarly, Leon gallery, the “tiny gallery” that also carries the power of turning one cooler and dare I say enlightened by just entering it’s doors, has bent their own standards, challenged it’s identity, and let the kids play.  The Erics of Leon will have to work and identify with a place of chaos and have people wonder if they could have possibly allowed such a mess to be made. “It’s called editing.” “I don't get it.” And I’m sure they did it in the name of art as well.

Dude, I’m telling you, you’re going to tell your Retirement Home neighbor about the night you saw Left Ajar: Plastic Old and Our Bright Shiny Future Together. Tell me what you think.  

Diego Rodriguez-Warner, boom, Mixed Media and Hand Carved Relief onPanel, 2013  - One of Diego's masterworks