JOSÉ RIVERAby Nathan Kernan
LUISE ROSS GALLERY | JANUARY 4 – FEBRUARY 5, 2012
José Rivera was born in Chicago in 1955, grew up in Puerto Rico, and now lives in the Bronx. This, his first solo show, includes drawings, paintings, collages, assemblages, and sculpture—and it’s a knockout. A somewhat busy installation reflects the fecundity of the work itself, which takes some getting used to. Intricately patterned drawings in black or blue ballpoint pen buzz with electricity, movement, and visual inventiveness, playing symmetry against dissymmetry while evoking influences as varied as Art Deco, Native American and pre-Columbian art, science fiction illustration, graffiti tags, and the work of Eduardo Paolozzi, with a hint of Aubrey Beardsley thrown in. The collage “Latest Edition” (2006) combines drawing, magazine clippings, and words in an incantatory and celebratory urban “map.” Three-dimensional assemblages of electrical parts and wires, playing cards, dominoes, plastic toys, and more provide a fresh take on neo-Surrealist traditions. With the brilliant (in every sense) “Guitarra Espanola” (2002), a guitar completely covered with a mosaic of multicolored wax crayon stubs, Rivera has created an instant classic.