LA NUIT JAPONAISE

Geoffrey Young. Catalogue of the exhibition En la ciudad nerviosa. Junio, 2004.

Roberto Mollá. La nuit japonaise. 2003

Roberto Mollá. "La nuit japonaise (2)". 2003

 

If I were asked to define the forms which appear as blue "figures" in Roberto Molla's blue world, what would I say? And what, if any, is their connection to the figures Picasso painted in the early 1930s, of rotund oddities cavorting on Riviera beaches, playing with beachballs? Modelled to give volume and body, and illuminated as if by neon at twilight, Molla's "characters" seem to ooze and mutate, even as we are looking at them. What alien craftsman assembled them? What signals are they hearing? If they are in motion, where are they going?

Like electrical cords, we must plug into Molla's painting. Though their exact narratives may elude us, his work seems to explore notions of transformation and anxiety. The feeling of consciousness embedded in bulbous otherness is always present in his digital metamorphoses. Some of his paintings would seem right at home in the slippery futuristic world of a film like "Bladerunner."

Influenced by manga, old video game iconography, and urban landscape--among other contemporary pressures--his paintings pay their respect to art historical sources, as well. The calm, open face in "La Nuit Japonaise" calls to mind Picabia's "La Nuit Espagnole," as well as portraits by Picasso. Benign, the clear gaze of the Japanese girl dressed in a kimono looks directly at the viewer, her presence rhyming with the way a traditional Spanish woman might appear. The two curls of hair, pasted to her forehead and cheek, are as strongly present as are the logos on popular products, and may stamp her as a Picabian parody.

The eye travels through these paintings from detail to detail, considering formal issues of color, flatness, mood and spatial ambiguity. Then we study the psychological aspect of Molla's strangely animated, though certainly "unnatural" protagonists and settings with ever increasing delight. His inventive line and smooth touch are at the service of a still evolving, hybrid imagery of humor and mystery. 
 

Roberto Mollá. Española - M'amenez-y. 2004

Roberto Mollá. "Española / M'amenez-y". 2004