When I was a child, I enjoyed lying down in the yard and spending hours staring at the clouds and the sky. The clouds moved slowly; they had different shapes, and they made me see animals, seas and ships, human shapes, extraordinary creatures. As time went by and I continued to do that, I learned that there was something more intriguing beyond the clouds; something shapeless and endless – infinite emptiness. I understood that the cloud guessing game was fun, but it was also a subterfuge, a diversion that only distracted me, switched my attention to another plane, which harbored questions I did not know how to ask.
At first, the work of Rodrigo Calixto takes me to this children’s game. The images of blood bags almost empty, blood remains adding color to them, reminded me of red clouds in the sky of my childhood. Rodrigo spent countless hours, day after day, staring at those bags, watching every one of them being emptied while he fought for his life. Maybe to entertain himself he tried to decipher shapes in the moving red bubbles. He certainly thought about the meaning of the emptiness behind the blood remains, and this reflection gave rise to his work. For the red stains represent so little: it is the emptiness that intrigues us.
In the red blur and white emptiness, presence and absence coexist; death and life, war and peace. However, it is not coexistence of equals, as there is a hierarchy: red and white are not in the same plane, just as clouds and sky. Emptiness is a reflection of the transfer of life, in which the subject gets diluted in each blood drop. The empire of the Self drowns in the Other that invades it. At egocentric times, Calixto pays homage to symbiosis, the relationship with the Other that keeps him alive. An anonymous Other, that cries out for his presence.
The emptiness in Calixto’s work takes me to the fundamental question that, as a child, I could not ask while staring at the clouds in the sky – and which now, an adult, I cannot answer. Who is the Other that sees me from this emptiness and which constitutes itself in me? This Other that, to Calixto, is a boon but also a bane. A bane that only art can break.