The Definition of Brilliance – Devon Rodriguez

The algorithm threw TikTok sensation Devon Rodriguez my way with this video and I found it an enjoyable and affecting watch.

Partly what I found interesting was its proximity as an act to something most would find intrusive and disturbing, namely taking a photograph of someone; capturing their image in space. Yet for a few reasons, Rodriguez presentation of his art work to the recipients (models) in this video has a decidedly different impact.

This is primarily because Rodriguez is a talented sketch artist. It might work were he not making work of this standard, but in a way – part of the impact is just how good the sketches are and the fact that they have a real range of subtlety and dimension from his lines and shading.

It’s also that he charges the moment with laughing positivity in the moment he presents the gift. The fact that it is a gift at this point, with a finely honed stillness that graces the form, elevates the moment. It’s also very good that he then compliments something about them which reinforces both his positive affirmation that they should be drawn, but also affirms something separate as a way of de-escalating any subjectified response that might emerge about the element of being surreptitiously studied and rendered.

In fact, it seems like quite a courageous and beuatiful gesture that connects the artist directly with people who both become part of the art and simultaneously its recipient and ‘owner.’ With each able to take something meaningful from the exchange, wrapped up in an infectious manner and being from Rodriguez.

It is clear to understand why this may have become hyper-viral on TikTok (and presumably yewtube) and this may be the thing which sustains and allows Rodriguez and others to maintain this kind of ebullient and care-free gesture-art without having to bring the saleability of the work into it, because the saleable work becomes the video, the process of recording the production itself.

For every artist I am sure the question always remains as to how long the door remains open to where the spirit of inspiration dances, in open places, uncluttered by the ‘ten thousand things’. Sometimes for a moment, occasionally for a lifetime…

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