To make a word pun with the italian name of Denis De-riva is necessary to speak about his works; to drift (ndt. “andare alla deriva”) down the melting shapes of the acrylics exposed at Cellar Contemporary is a path which goes countercurrent, which moves blindly and weirdly, and which requires existential attention.
Denis Riva, born in the indefinite “Ganzamonio” in 1979, is an artist bonded to the daily and the simple: his efforts pour in the re-generation of abbandones spaces, in coexistence with the territory and Lanificio Paoletti and the usage of materials like wood and paper. With a hint of rightful pride he reminds us that he doesn’t study at the Academy of Fine Arts, that he doesn’t teach, that his sources of inspiration are peeling walls and stains of oil on the ground.
All these unconscious re-interpretations though would risk to remain simple leftovers if our artist had not been able to transform them into “states of progress”: they have not remained simple cut-ups of daily introspection but cut-ups of what in them there is of existential progress. That is the reason why Riva’s works can be said to have, volountarily or less, a universal breath: landscapes are psychic, geographies are intimate, colours relatively little elaborated. But that’s exactly why the artist’s lyricsm can speak to all of us.
This speech the author gives is given in the most prolyfic way possible, which is through silence. Indeed, silence reigns on the paper sheets and silence marks the mixture between man and nature. Human figures are almost always reduced to a colour silhouette, to an empty container without boundaries and filled with emotions only, to a pure vibration which echoes in between a natural external full of memories and an animal (both human and non-human) interior answering to it. The difference between the two is weak, almost non-existent, and that’s the reason why splashes of colour, colaturas, tears and strands of paint run after each other on the canvas an paper sheets, overlapping one another. They are no more than slices of emotions, the ones that are crashing with the natural elements on the background.
The background therefore gets involved and becomes co-responsible of the artist’s emotional states, a mirror where games of yellow, blue and green cross-references get played. Even the few scenes of actual communication are rendered through colour, streaming from a human and an animal silhouette, but exceptionally also to the above, striving to reach an indefinite receiver from which no answer is expected.
That’s the case of the work Ultimo pensiero (ndt. “Last Thought”), where a human-like void shape lets his inner colours flow away into a bleak washed-out sky; or of Diventare luce (ndt. “Becoming Light”), where the animal metamorphosis becomes itself a gain and a progress and, for one time, even a leap of the Spirit.
These are the reasons why the emotional realities of the artist move by little steps between the cold waters that try to bring us back home. “This trigger that started many years ago seems to be a slow, gigantic, fragile and complex machinery”, Riva observes thinking back to his work, and his paintings now in exposition are nothing but another step of this complex organic and existential machinery.
All taken into account, this works represent another advanced acomplishement both to the artist and the observer and they do so without destroying what they find in their path, but layering and condensing with patient work an articulate composition. The result is this collection presented at Cellar Contemporary: Advanced states of composition (ndt. “Avanzato stato di composizione”), at the moment also on line: cellarcontemporary.com.
Giacomo Del Colle
Denis Riva, Acqua che vuoi diventare, mixed media on canvas, 100 x 150 cm, courtesy Cellar Contemporary, Trento
Denis Riva, Uscire dal bosco, mixed media on canvas, 100 x 100 cm, courtesy Cellar Contemporary, Trento
Denis Riva, Diventare luce, mixed media on wood, 50 x 99 cm, courtesy Cellar Contemporary Trento