The Myth of the Incomplete Self, a Psycho-Archaeological Codex is a solo show by Flagstaff based artist Rodrigo de Toledo showing in the Jewel Gallery at the Coconino Center for the Arts. The work offers us a beautiful and delicate mythology of contemporary origin, in which the artist directly addresses the core of the human structure: our incompleteness. The exhibition will open with a public reception alongside the main gallery show 10×10, Saturday, January 12, 2019.
The artist will also briefly discuss his work and answer questions.
The Myth of the Incomplete Self will be on view during regular gallery hours, January 15 through February 9, 2019. The artist will give a free talk at the Coconino Center for the Arts on Friday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m.
His body of work in the exhibition was produced from 2016 to 2018, and is based on a larger iconographic work that the author began in 2005. The work evokes illuminated manuscripts, created on leather parchment and rice paper, imagining them as lost pages from an ancient codex or mythological treatise. The images present a personal iconography of invented and appropriated symbols, uniquely
arranged, combined, transformed, and depicted in cosmo-mythological and archetypal diagrams, as well as in scenes from a mythological pantheon. The imagery also suggests hieroglyphic or linguistic arrangements, a visual syntax using the Codex’s symbols and archetypes. A new and unique organization of archetypes emerged from this project. The theme points to hermetic, ancient languages, and mystical treatises, as codices often do. The exhibition’s catalog explains the pantheon, the meaning of the symbols and their interconnection, in accessible terms.
The codex pages float over a red-velvet background, framed in shadow boxes. The thirteen pages are divided into four sets: the Self’s Pantheon, the Cosmo-Mythological Diagrams, the three phases of the Self’s Sublimation journey, and the Archetypal Iconography Schemas.
Besides these sets, several other pieces that complement the mythology were produced between 2016 and 2018, on canvas and watercolor paper, as seen in the exhibition’s catalog.
I make symbols, and I connect them. I started doing this spontaneously in 2005, as a form of understanding myself and the world. At the time, I was not aware that it was the beginning of a potentially lifelong art project, which I later came to view as a spiritual process. This practice became increasingly structured when I started to put together what I call a personal mythology that contains interconnected archetypes and some of their background stories. In 2010, I formalized this concept as a series of five paintings entitled Inner Mythological Realms, which were published in my illustrated fiction Chronicles of Entanglement—The Broken Mandala Whispers. From 2016 to 2018 the mythology was expanded with a new body of work, entitled The Myth of the Incomplete Self.
I research ancient mythologies and their icons, allowing myself to be influenced by instinctive attraction to imagery—loosely navigating what psychologist Carl Jung called the collective unconscious. It takes me a while to create and collect a set of symbols, characters and environments, which I draw with a surrealist stream-of-consciousness spontaneity. I then refine their appearance, and make them fit visually, coherently, and conceptually into the existing mythology and iconography. This practice could be described as a psycho-archeological search, with a resulting fictional world design.
My medium exploration focuses on adapting and showing this mythology through as many media as possible, such as graphic novels, paintings, short animated films, digital 3D environments, prints, installations, and performance. A critical part of this exploration is the research of visual language and visual style, which is influenced by the design and techniques found in depictions of ancient religious archetypes, as well as cartoons and comics characters.
As an artist and graphic designer, I am instinctively attracted to visual systems. The application of symbols in my compositions follows an invented visual grammar, a combination of hieroglyphic language and mysterious alchemical schemas. I employ a primitive pop-surreal graphic style, which helps me explore questions of identity and spirituality, as well as the media’s effect on personal memory and fantasy.
Rodrigo de Toledo is a Brazilian-American contemporary artist, designer, and visual communication full Professor at Northern Arizona University. Since 1990, his whimsical imaginary world has been exhibited around the globe in museums, galleries, festivals, and the media. Inspired by ancient religious icons, mythological archetypes, Jungian psychology, and cartoons, his work explores questions of identity and spirituality, as well the media’s effect on personal memory and fantasy. In the past decade, he has focused on the design of a personal mythology and its visual iconography—an inner research that he describes as psycho-archeology. De Toledo employs a surreal pop visual style in cross-media blends of digital imaging, graphic novels, painting, interactivity, installation, and animation.
Artist Instagram: @neurondiva