Kenny Rivero
Dec 12, 2014 - Feb 28, 2015

El Pique, 2014
Oil, Acrylic, Contact Paper, Oil and Chalk Pastels, Plastic Beads, Fabric and Collage on Canvas
60 x 84 in. (152.4 x 213.6 cm)


Shin Gallery opens its winter season with I Can Love You Better, a solo show for Kenny Rivero. The exhibition is comprised of recent paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and a site specific installation.
Rivero keeps a collection of paint chips taken from his childhood home. Broken free of their substrate, these chips reveal the overlap of distinct lives contained within a single domestic space. Rivero is compelled to find and excavate sunken histories, and then reconstruct an imagined, coherent narrative for those hidden, subtly suggested experiences.
Although Rivero’s work often begins with explorations of color, texture, and with mark making, the artist says he assembles these stories not through formal mechanics alone, rather the materials themselves—such as the sweep piles, house paint, and salvaged paper he often utilizes—possess complex identities and specific historical auras. However, personal history is muddled, mingled with other histories: a small vignette about a character’s tortuous loyalty to the Yankees is entangled with a larger narrative of identification with heroic cultural icons.
Rivero excavates, but he also builds. Most often there is a specific narrative within each work, a story layered with affiliations, loyalties, psycho-social histories, and personal as well as shared iconography. I Can Love You Better offers moments of intense accumulation both in content and in materiality.
Rivero’s practice is a direct response to his own trajectory. Growing up in Washington Heights, in a dense social sphere, he never had private space per se. The work in I Can Love You Better constructs a zone of contemplation where his personal history may be sifted, distilled, and made into images, translated into three-dimensional forms such as doors, hair clippers, obsolete doorbells buried under decades of paint.
I Can Love You Better takes its name, in part, from a 1997 Mary J. Blige record, and like its namesake, is intended as an intimate offering or a private plea. The work does feel private, perhaps even lonely. It is representative of Rivero finding an intimate space for himself in all this sociality and layered identifications: simultaneously being and becoming American, being a musician and a maker of images, drawing on Afro-diasporic religious practices, and making them a source of play in his practice. His paintings are visual allegories without the moralizing finish; characters and objects weave together to make a rye, slightly askance look at personal narrative.