“Organic Architecture,” defined as branch of modern architecture that endorses harmony between man and nature, emphasizes the creation of a new system to achieve balance between the constructed and the natural environment. Through the integration of artificial elements made by human beings and components of the natural surroundings, “All become part of a single, interconnected body and architectural space.”
The artworks of Rodrigo Braga also talk about a new system of nature and man: A system that is not always balanced, calm, and complacent, but rather made-up of tensions and conflicts; a system created by manipulating, forcing, and experimenting with materials and physical boundaries; a system in which life and death coexist, in which man tries to appropriate the flora in order to put himself on par with the fauna. The photographs of Braga express a system where nature, in the form of landscapes and animals, occupies a dominant position. Braga tries to challenge it, destroy it, and manipulate it, but in the end he—the artist, the man, the generic human being—is always in the background to nature.
To create his particular imaginary, the artist breaks down animals and tries to merge with them entirely or at least in part. He explores the boundary between the origin of the species and the evolved being. He tries to revive what is no longer alive. And though it may seem contradictory, this process starts from a place of love, not from a desire for blind destruction. His love for nature was born from childhood (his parents are both biologists). In all his works, the artist sets up scenes that portray the struggle between two enormous forces: the natural instinct for survival and the reasoned action of human beings based on a premeditated idea. Above all, his works reflect a struggle with himself, challenging his own physical and psychological limits that approximate the performance and body art of well-known artists such as Marina Abramović, Gina Pane, and Herman Nitsch.
For example, he cuts off the head of a fish and thrusts in his own, trying to become an aquatic vertebrate. Or he binds himself head to foot to a goat and engages it in a fight, in which the animal battles its innate submission to and fear of man and he (the artist) tries to overcome his physical limitations of strength and pain. The soil, the earth, the mud are other recurring elements in his works, representing on one hand the origin of life, and on the other, what represses life. He compares himself to animals like the fish and the goat through visceral experiences, where he attempts to inhabit and enter into them as if trying to return to “home”—to an old cradle lived in a time prior to his existence. He challenges nature and its forces to later apologize and make peace. Through the quiet beauty of his visual language, he reveals both the cruelty of his actions against nature and the harmony of reunification.
Even in the most gruesome images showcasing cut and fragmented animals, a unique poetry reigns of color and shape, combined with an impeccable aesthetic balance. Symbols of death such as bones, cut limbs, and infertile landscapes are transformed into a visual melody, bringing the beauty of our life to the foreground. Rodrigo Braga is able to perfectly combine the artifice of human beings and the beauty of life on earth, giving us a feeling of magic and mystery. His “Organic Art” is a work of art and a kind of wonder.
This article is published on OrNot Magazine.