MEL ROSAS, born 1950
Patron Saint of Industrial Cities, 1995
oil on wood
The placement of Rosas' painting here suggests that defining similarities between works of art is an artificial process that is often misleading.
The scale of the work, its frame, and its realistic detail make it look like it belongs with the surrounding religious paintings. This superficial correspondence is reinforced by Rosas' figure, which recalls Christian images of Christ lifting his hand in a gesture of blessing.
Closer exploration reveals that Rosas has created a work that is thoroughly contemporary in content. Just as Bellini did in his painting - seen on the wall to the left - Rosas refers to an environment from his own time. Behind his figure is an urban landscape with indications of decay.
Rosas' work comments on post-industrial reality. The "Saint of Industrial Cities" is blindfolded, inattentive to the needs of contemporary urban sites. His saint is actually a self portrait, implying that each of us bears responsibility for the conditions of our world.
To the next artist...