How Art is Born
Episode 5


Diego Rodriguez-Warner has a cinematic origin story. The son of a guerrilla fighter and an international aid worker, Diego started out his studies in higher education focusing on the darkest parts of human history. He was feeling understandably discouraged by humanity until one fateful night at a jazz club gave him the epiphany to totally change course and dedicate his life to being an artist. In this episode, Diego and Alan discuss their shared love of comics and how it shows up in Diego’s work today, the fear of conforming to the tastes of the mainstream, activist art versus timeless art, and how Diego is able to say he’s never experienced failure in art (spoiler: it’s got nothing to do with luck and everything to do with perspective).

Links mentioned in this episode
Follow Diego on Instagram
Read about Lesbia Vent Dumois (Diego's tutor in Cuba) on Wikipedia
Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack on Spotify
In Search of Duende by Federico García Lorca
The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault 
Learn more about Diego’s exhibition at MCA in 2018

This episode contains mature language and content.



Diego Rodriguez-Warner was born in Managua, Nicaragua in 1986 and moved to Denver, Colorado in 1990. He holds fine arts degrees from Hampshire College and the Rhode Island School of Design, and he has studied under the Cuban Minister of Fine Arts, Lesbia Dumois, in Havana. At RISD, he was a recipient of the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship. His work has been shown around the US, in Cuba, and in Germany.

Trained as a printmaker in Havana, Cuba and at the Rhode Island School of Design, Rodriguez-Warner has developed a manner of painting that is informed by woodblock printing and characterized by tromp l’oeil, collage, and art historical references. He enhances the tromp l’oeil by carving into and staining the plywood panels on which he works. Painted shadows and subtly carved ones confuse the eye. This sensation—that of the possibility of depth—is amplified by the layering of forms, figures, and patterns that twist around, melt into, and overlap one another. Some of these familiar fragments might be cribbed from ukiyo-e master Yoshitoshi, or master painters such as Henri Matisse and George Grosz, while others elude identification even as simple shapes.