At first glance, the paintings of San Jose artist Samuel Rodriguez look like portraits that have been smeared with some lines or letters. But if you pay closer attention, you’ll see that there is a method to these additions.
Rodriguez creates works that are a unique combination of portraits, abstract shapes, and typography. His series “Topographical Portraiture” sees the artist adding lines and shapes to a portrait to achieve a similar effect that contour lines have on geographical maps. According to him, these additions are visual identifiers of the subjects he paints.
In the series “Type Faces,” on the other hand, he adds letters to the portraits. This way, he emphasizes “juxtaposing different languages and typography.”
“I think of my works as landscape paintings, except my observations, consist of language, and culture in the same way, someone would render a physical landscape, I render cultural ones. I’m observing the cultural metaphorical landscape,” he shared in an interview with Booooooom.
Rodriguez’s distinctive style reflects his artistic journey. He started as a graffiti artist before taking on formal education and pursuing Bachelor in Fine Arts at The California College of the Arts. After getting his degree, he worked as an illustrator for many years before transitioning to the current art form.
Check out more of his works below.