Gesture for want

For I am all the subjects that you have by David Rios Ferreira
18″x24″; gouache, screen printing ink, and collage on wood panel; 2020. Courtesy of the artist


Gesture for want and tears for all that is dark: David Rios Ferreira

at Morgan Lehman in New York, New York, USA
1 October-25 November 2020

David Rios Ferreira’s multifaceted practice draws on an array of visual sources including historical etchings, 1930s political cartoons, and children’s coloring books. From these touchstones of visual culture, the artist produces highly graphic works defined by clusters of lines and layers of color, his output often spanning drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation.

As a first-generation mainland Puerto Rican, Ferreira is influenced by the detestable deculturalization practices conducted by the United States government on children in Puerto Rico up until the 1950s, strategies such as state-sponsored propaganda through nursery rhymes and school pledges. The artist’s practice is also informed by his young nephews on the Autism Spectrum who borrow lines from cartoons in order to communicate, with their interest in animation going beyond childish obsession and becoming a source for language. In Ferreira’s work, familiar Pop-culture characters such as Astro Boy, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan are reconstituted to become repositories for the artist’s personal history and broader political commentary. Ferreira draws from similarly constructed beings found in Caribbean and West African carnival culture, whereby new
identities are formed from recycled fragments and everyday objects become ingredients for new structures that emit power and spirituality, while addressing social and political issues.

Casta by David Rios Ferreira
18″x24″; watercolor, ink and collage on paper; 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

Taken all at once or piece by piece, Ferreira’s work coalesces into a study on identity formation, an investigation of gender, sexuality, race, and nation. In this unique moment in time in which old sociopolitical wounds resurface and new ones opened, Ferreira asks us to consider questions of ourselves and the systems of power that we inhabit.

(Text adapted from the gallery’s press materials.)


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