Emmanuel Rodriguez-Chaves

Costa Rica, b.1986

Lives and works in San José, Costa Rica

Emmanuel Rodriguez-Chaves is a visual artist and researcher, known for his exploration of memory, narrative, and the interplay of images in the context of conflict and historical constructions. His educational journey took him through various prestigious institutions, including the University of Costa Rica, the Kunsthochschule Weissensee in Berlin, and the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne, where he completed his Ph.D. as a recipient of a Melbourne Research Scholarship.

At the core of Rodriguez-Chaves’ work is an interrogation of how contemporary art navigates the complex relationships between the manipulation of images and socio-political imaginaries. Embodying a unique approach to images as tools for constructing memory and knowledge, he delves into the values, systems, and symbols that are common to specific social groups, effectively constructing new narratives that challenge our perception of reality and history.

Resembling collages, his paintings blend images from different times and places, evoking a sense of nostalgia and questioning the boundaries between fact and fiction. Through the manipulation of databases, printed photos, and digital resources, he distorts and enhances these images, effectively altering their meaning and agency. Rodriguez-Chaves challenges our trust in the reliability of the images we capture or encounter and asks a poignant question: “Is it possible to define or deconstruct the meaning of an image without taking into account its ideological producer?”

Rodriguez-Chaves also invites us to ponder the inspirational power of images and how they can propel us to action, further solidifying his position as an artist and researcher at the intersection of art and socio-political discourse. His work is a testament to the ever-shifting, complex nature of our visual world and the stories it tells.

Rodriguez-Chaves’ work has been shown worldwide, including with Galerie Conrads at Pulse Miami, Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz in Berlin and Galerie pompom in Sydney, Australia. His art has found a place in both private and public collections across the globe, from Costa Rica and Guatemala to New York, Australia, and the Czech Republic.

Emmanuel Rodriguez-Chaves is his studio, 2024 (Photography by Juan Tribaldos)

“Can an image – be it digital, physical or imagined – survive in the social imaginary?” Rodriguez-Chaves, 2020