Mano Y Mano

The actual spelling for this popular saying is ‘Mano a Mano’, usually meaning to fight someone ‘toe to toe’ or ‘one on one’. However, for Aaron De La Cruz and Samuel Rodriguez, this is an exhibit of collaboration and not competition. ‘Mano y Mano’, for this show means ‘hand and hand’, emphasizing the collaborative effort and their shared cultural roots and style. Both artists being of Mexican descent and introduced to art through graffiti in California.

The two became familiar with the term ‘hand-styles’ or ‘hands’ referring to one’s graffiti tagging-style. A tag to them is the root of graffiti, because it is the base for even the most elaborate pieces of graffiti. It is also the part that instantly shows one’s signature or mark. This is something that can instantly tell a story about an artist’s identity, and is both sophisticated and primal.

Recognizing and displaying these beginnings is important, but not the main influence of this show for each artist. They have both since been exposed to many other influences and cultures in design and illustration. Both agree that graffiti alone is not their voice. This show will display new marks they have made ‘Mano y Mano’ on their artistic identities.

Aaron De La Cruz’s work, though minimal and direct at first, tends to overcome barriers of separation and freely steps in and out of the realms of design, graffiti, and illustration.

The parameters he has chosen to work within actually allow him to free himself and react to the very limitations he has created. This overriding structure and the lack of deliberation while moving within creates a tension when encountering his work due to the almost computer generated grid like systems he creates by unplanned mark-making. The act and the marks themselves are very primal in nature but tend to take on distinct and sometimes higher meanings in the broad range of mediums and contexts they appear in and on.

His work finds strengths in the reduction of his interests in life to minimal information. De La Cruz gains from the idea of exclusion, just because you don’t literally see it doesn’t mean that its not there.


Samuel Rodriguez currently lives in San Jose, CA where he works as a graphic designer and illustrator. Some of his most recent works are permanent public art installations for the Los Angeles Metro Authority, and the City of San Jose. He also runs Shortyfatz, which produces apparel and limited edition figurines, based on the brands comic characters.

Samuel first became serious about art through graffiti at the age of eleven. During this time and years after, his favorite aspect of graffiti was tagging because of the instantaneous expression one can execute from it. Since then, he has expanded on this interest through the discovery of various visual interests and mediums.

Samuel believes that people and their particular mix of experiences in any craft or situation is what makes them unique. His work integrates elements of life expressions, and gestures of his past and present. He views his process as one in which he absorbs and releases. His goal is to retell life moments, not in a literal sense, but rather through the emotional and abstract. He does this by re-creating a visual collage of his interpreted reality, through the gestures of stylized letters, faces, scenes, and shapes.


The opening night of “Mano Y Mano” will take place on Friday, April 15th, 2011 at Above Second Gallery between 6 pm and 10pm (details below).

“Mano Y Mano” by Aaron De La Cruz and Samuel Rodriguez
Friday, April 15th, 2011 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
31 Eastern Street
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
p: 852.3483.7950

Jasper Wong – Above Second
p: 852.9861.1506