Hernan Rivera Luque
In his work, Hernan Rivera Luque explores many various media including painting, film, installation, and
collage. Begun in 2016, he has been making a series of large and small-scale collages using New York
subway posters as his chosen material. Working with found materials is a common theme throughout
Rivera Luque’s work.
The material in these collages are not only recycled but disrupted as well. He begins by taking unused
posters and cuts around the recognizable images, erasing whatever commercial message was meant to
be originally articulated in the advertisement. This process of disruption, of chance, leaves him with a
palette of varying shades of colors in completely unplanned shapes. From here Rivera compares his
process to that of painting as he chooses where to place the forms and the colors.
There is a topographical element to it where the vinyl is layered on top of one another creating an ever
so slight elevation and shadow. This overlap of one color to the next also creates the illusion of a
foreground and background as the bright colors pop out and darker ones recede. The subtle gradations
of color lend a luminescent quality to some.
Rivera’s work recalls the idea of Jean/Hans Arp’s “law of chance” and of his collages that he made by
dropping shapes of paper over another, leaving the organization of the parts to chance. This series also
draws upon the shapes and colors that are found in Matisse’s collages, and his freedom and search for a
connection with nature.
Rivera Luque refers to the abstraction of forms in these collages as undefined images/landscapes – the remains
of something we cannot see. He compares these unrecognizable images to the shadows in Plato’s
Allegories of the Cave – a dialogue about man’s perception in which chained people inside the cave can
only see the shapes of the objects projected onto the wall in shadow and never see the real thing.
One could suggest that Rivera’s idea is actually the opposite of Plato’s because the disruption of the
advertisements frees the image of any preconceived idea or fantasy of the world that the posters are
meant to force into our visual and psychological environment. Instead his process creates an open and
free ‘Form’ that has yet to be defined. In turn creating a visual allegory of the idea of freedom, and
working within that moment between defeating an oppressive power (the established order) and the time
before a new order begins.