At first, one might find the work of Elio Rodríguez shocking or unusual, especially those who have taken the premises of negritude or blackconsciousness too seriously. Or those who apply an introspective approach related to the traumatic psychological experiences that the famous psychoanalyst from Martinique, Frantz Fanon, explored in his writings. In fact there is no painful exploration of his existential condition as a black man in the works of Elio Rodríguez. There is no trauma. No black lament. Neither can we find any thirst for vengeance. No revanchism.
Since I have written about this extraordinary work recently ; I will transcribe my own words: "That monumental white and voluminous Jungle, of the beginnings of the 1990s (destroyed and miraculously remade by Elio very recently ) was – at least for me – not only a strange homage, but a prank (although very respectful) played on the maestro Wifredo Lam. Or at least that is how I have chosen to interpret it. Does it not contain a heap of sharp reflections on that "construct" called history of the Cuban modern art whose highest exponent is curiously enough in New York's MoMA? The "whiteness" that Elio’s youthful Jungle brings forth, isn’t it also an incisive comment on the relatively westernized or Eurocentric posture of that great paradigm of the "Afro-Cuban" and Third World art that Lam was? The white (or the discolouring) of Elio’s Jungle, is this not also a wink or a slight nudge to the scant presence of real negritude, of a true racial identity or of authentic Afro-Cuban religiosity, before the evidence that the motivations of Lam stems rather from bookish approaches, second-hand conceptions or the dregs of that Parisian negritude (and Picasso-style) fashion and not so much from true life experiences? Maybe this whole matter of direct experiences is not so important to make a work believable and artistically effective. Or to turn it into a work of art. But I digress and actually what I wanted to say doesn't have to do so much with Lam as with Elio himself, and the fact is that no artist will reproduce inch by inch a monumental work such as La Jungla and in passing remove its colours, only for the pleasure of making a joke or to experiment with soft sculpture, don’t you think? The pleasure has stemmed without a doubt from his reflective interests.