Proyectos Monclova is pleased to present Federico Herrero’s first solo exhibition in Mexico, Letters and volumes.
Herrero’s approach to painting touches on Latin America’s conceptual, muralist, and geometric abstraction traditions and yet stands outside them. The artist goes beyond the limit of the traditional notions of painting. Not only for the way he handles the physical margins of the canvas, but also for how his work operates in and with space. Besides the typical canvas and walls, the supports and surfaces he uses are as varied as a street, a bus, or the bottom of a swimming pool, and most recently, concrete and wooden sculptural elements, which Herrero calls “volumes”. A series of such three-dimensional units is displayed alongside large-scale paintings at the gallery’s first floor. However the artist does not consider them sculptures, rather an alternative space for painterly intervention.
These objects allude to modernist architectural fragments thus complementing the mental landscapes presented on the canvases. Herrero’s imagery comprises chromatic patches of color, cartoon-esque figures, the lack of painting and disembodied eyes. The use of different mediums such as oil paint, acrylic, marker, pen and spray paint within the same picture dissolves traditional technique hierarchies and reflects the painting process itself.
Risk and improvisation are crucial to Herrero’s practice. His work can be seen as a study of liminal spaces—gaps between figure and background, canvas and wall, private and public, and between work and viewer.
Federico Herrero also questions the spatial boundaries of museums and galleries, presenting an installation-like approach of his work. In Letters and volumes the artist pairs a series of paintings with color applied directly onto the interior architecture. He employs the basement space of the gallery to expand the concept of painting and its perception. The gallery floor becomes the canvas: a bright sky blue covers the entire ground and extends slightly to the walls, thus transforming the exhibition space into a vessel, demonstrating its volumetric properties.
By suspending the limits between walls and floor, Herrero subverts display hierarchies grounded in institutional traditions. But this moment of transfer is not exhausted at this point. While painting in his studio, Federico Herrero protects the floor with a white plastic surface. Marked with different types of traces such as color drips, foot-prints and dirt stains, this cover becomes the actual piece in the exhibition. One might call these pieces indexical paintings of the painting process itself.
Such an accidental and automatic mechanism is of particular interest to the artist, who then explores the possibility of mimicking randomness.