Photos from the artist

What’s in a name? Or in this case, what’s in a game? Raha Rodriguez’s Master Plan: Phase One served as a reflection on the game in which we all have been forced to play.

Green figurines have abounded the second floor of NOVA Gallery. On one side was a wooden horse, housing more pieces of the green figures. On the other side was a video of part of Rodriguez’s production process. Epoxy and wood were the main materials for the exhibited pieces in Rodriguez’s first solo show.

The artist with his installation piece

As for most of us, toys have always been a part of Raha Rodriguez’s early life and, hence, its great influence in his creative pursuits. In this exhibition, it is clear how he has mastered the art of repurposing toys and injecting them with subtle commentaries, ignited by his passion for production.

By profession, Rodriguez is an industrial designer by day, and studio artist by night. He has been multitasking 24/7, balancing a day job with his studio work as a way to fund his art practice.

Close up of installation

As he finds the right balance between passion and work, he still finds time and puts in the effort to maximize his resources. As can be seen on his very much active Instagram account, @raharodriguez, it can be said that the artist is quite prolific. With a steadily evolving art practice, he has exhibited in several galleries including Vinyl on Vinyl, District Gallery, and the Ayala Museum. Rodriguez has been awarded for his artistic excellence, having been a finalist for the Shell National Students Art Competition for two consecutive years. He spent a year taking up Painting at Kalayaan College before finishing a degree in Industrial Design in 2016 at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts.

A portion of Rodriguez’ work

Even during his undergraduate years, Rodriguez’s inclination towards the aesthetic of toys was evident. He used this aesthetic combined with inspiration from everyday instances to produce his figures. He makes it clear, though, that through his works, he challenges the notion of regarding toys as mere objects, and so he presents them in a different light.

Close up of individual piece

In his studio, Rodriguez’s production process starts with a random idea, perhaps something fun. He would, then, sketch plans on how to execute them, filling his journals with more blueprints rather than concept art drawings. His process is somehow open and fluid. He likes to experiment with different processes and approaches in creating pieces. Even with his fascination with how things are made, he believes there is no absolute way of doing things, which might be the main driving force behind his creativity.

Though seemingly political, in Master Plan: Phase One, Rodriguez has painstakingly crafted figurines that communicate solely his personal sentiments as a mere civilian regarding the “growing presence and sudden influx of a certain foreign entity” in the country. He finds it important to lay it out for every individual concerned, considering the undeniable apathy of our citizens.

Rodriguez’ army

Contemplating if the recent events are all part of Phase One of some grand Master Plan, the artist toys around with the idea that history may repeat itself. Maybe all this commotion is just Round One but, unfortunately for them, Rodriguez is not here to play. With his evident discipline in pursuing and developing his practice, this young artist is not restricted by the game; Raha Rodriguez, in fact, designs it.

Raha Rodriguez’s first solo show, Master Plan: Phase One, was exhibited at NOVA Gallery in September 2019.