The Syndrome of Popularity

By Yenny Hernández Valdés

Everything is double; everything has two poles, its pair of opposites:
the similar and the antagonistic are the same;
the opposed are identical in nature but different in degree;
the ends touch one another; all truths are half truths;
all paradoxes can reconcile.

For some, the goddess Bia (1) incarnates feminine force and violence, and all they know about her is her irascible and impetuous temper. For others, Bia is considered a protective and proud deity who defends her beliefs and feelings, going as far as to unleash an indomitable force in order to attain her objective. She certainly condenses two opposed poles with regard to personalities and passions.

The Bia syndrome is currently observed in key points of society, in the individuals, in their forms of thought, in the unbreakable political and power structures, in the cultural universe and in the development of the different communities. The existence of a society resulting from globalization makes the different nuances dilute in the face of the extreme actions and ideas that mobilize the individual. Non-sense absolutisms are accepted just as they are, regulated and established in such a way that they become laws, authoritarian truths without possibility of change.

Precisely the art circles are a rich and sensitive zone in which the “Bia effect” develops. That appears in the works of a self-taught Cuban artist with incredible vocation for art that conscientiously explores in detail the still unsolved concerns in his mind and presents them through the canvas, the installation, and the legendary drawing technique.

Frank Rodvent (Havana, 1982) is authentic in his work. He investigates in detail the theme he wishes to present in his pieces, finds peculiarities, creates connections and adds to his search a dose of creativity and interesting debates. During his search he also gathers a number of personal anecdotes and family experiences that he carries with him. His method is based on the concept of polarity, of dual perspectives. Bia is thus physically and conceptually present in Frank Rodvent’s art. The term ‘violence’ is presented by him from the dual probability of its meaning, based on the context and personal experience of each individual.

The artist handles the daily elements through established philosophies, and does so from the subjectivity of different points of view, all valid and possible. He uses the resource of irony and a humorous tint in his works, each one of which is liable to questionings. He makes opposed ideologies coexist in his canvases and installations, icons of controversial meanings, antagonistic themes of individual concern that reach social macro levels. His production abounds in objects and elements of the most dissimilar forms, functions and degrees, among which are grenades, coins, shackles, boxing knuckles, chains, letters and popular images: a whole symbolic range whose greatest value is found in facing their opponent.

The pieces that make up his series Mask are based on the discursive diatribe of the polyhedron: everything is variable, everything is paradoxical… The meaning of this series goes beyond the mere concept of the “mask” as barrier dividing different states. It conveys the sense of splitting, of what we know and of what we are forced to know. And splitting is meant as tool to show other possible forms of apprehension of the alleged beauty canons, or to find spicy themes such as violence from other perhaps not traditional angles but indeed existing and being practiced, through which to raise awareness on complex topics whose implementation depends of subjective appreciations more than of pre-established ones.

Frank Rodvent explores the paradoxes and attempts to favor a possible marriage between opponents. In this regard, his work gains a tint of risk and challenge at the same time. Risk if he is capable of reinventing himself a polemic discourse each time, proposing other clues for the exegesis of suggestive meanings. Challenge in the sense of further awakening the impetuous wild beast of goddess Bia, with the purpose of always finding possible nuances in the opposed ends.

  1. Bia is the goddess of force and violence. Together with her brother Kratos, she is characterized by her devotion to the duty of protecting Zeus entrusted to her. Her warlike capacity is admirable; she is precise and the most deadly one during the battle. Although she is best known as a goddess of strong personality, she has great fondness for her brothers Kratos, Zelo and Niké, for whom she would not hesitate to use her fist in battle to prevent them from the suffering caused by others. Her representative weapons are the double swords.

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