Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Arturo Herrera

Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
530 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10011

October 21 – November 25, 2006

installation view, courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co
installation view, courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co

The 40 mixed media collages on paper in this exhibition by Arturo Herrera are all the same size, 98 ½ x 48 ½ inches. This allows us to focus on variations of a particular visual theme. Although we are told that the source of these nonobjective collages are two illustrations of an old dwarf and a young boy playing an accordion, there are few legible traces of the source material found in the final products, with the exception of “#6BF4” (2006) and “#29 BF3” (2006), where the image of the young boy’s face and his accordion can be discerned. The surfaces of these collage paintings are busy. Mr. Herrera likes to play wallpaper or op-art patterns off of linear tangles, and his color combinations are boisterous and somewhat inchoate.

Disorientation appears to be Mr. Herrera’s goal. He uses representational forms only to bring them to the point of obliteration, and this lends the work a subliminal quality. There is constant movement between foreground and background and articulation is sacrificed in the name of movement and a joyous incoherence. In most cases, we are not sure what is being seen against what. Mr. Herrera has limited himself to a particular formula and it has produced surprisingly varied results. The representational aspects of these painting collages are complicated cutouts or stencils of the dwarf and boy playing an accordion. These meticulously produced linear skeins are colored differently in each collage and placed against a background of repeating patterns, as in “#16 BB4” (2006), or equally busy fields with plenty of painterly mark making strewn about. The superimposition of busy but crisp linear clusters over repeating pattern is easy to discern in some of these paintings, “#24BB5” (2006) for instance, but in others busyness cancels busyness and surfaces become fragmented, kaleidoscopic, pretty messes. Color is applied to the stencils and grounds in different ways, there are sprays, drips, and splotches of color, and each new manner of application generates different kinds of pictorial space. This spatial razzle-dazzle keeps these surfaces interesting.