Trying to articulate Leonor Serrano Rivas’ practice takes to a challenging position, confronted by the work of an artist whose approach tend to oppose any sort of framing and categorisation.
Serrano Rivas starts from historical fonts: a book outlining mimetic theatrical techniques from the Renaissance, happenings at the Esclava Theater in Madrid while under Gregorio Martínez Sierra’s theatre direction, an essay by Roger Caillois on the dream state an so on.. but instead of a steadfast research with some outlined conclusions, Serrano Rivas lets herself being cherished by interpretation and free association; concatenating one thought after the other with a non-logical reading of things. Dream logic is crucial to approach her work: rationality must give way to an intuitive understanding of a feeling towards a living body of work which is made over the course of time. Dream logic is all that should be relied on when engaging with the work of Serrano Rivas, and it is often used by the artist as a way to present layered sensorial experiences where the viewer must forget the narrative impulse, unlearn this desire for resolution and delve into the realm of Serrano Rivas’ work.
Elements build one upon the other: a moving image work typically becomes expanded in the space, where sculptures function as a tridimensional crystallization and prosthetic extension of the film in the space. The viewer too, together with the use of lighting, becomes part of the process of activating the sculptural works rendering to these performative qualities. The materials that Serrano Rivas employees present a fascination with their inherent qualities and the ability to tease out suggestive evocations. Glass becomes alive as a breathed and breathing body.
Engaging with non-hierarchical systems and non-academic methods of unlearning becomes a subtle act of resistance, be it towards mere perception or paradigms outside of society’s established and constrictive norms. It can perhaps even find its own logic to observe that Serrano Rivas, with her new body of work, has been interested in animation mechanics especially in the pre-cinematographic techniques such as shadow theatre and dioramas, seeking to present situations where the effect is created but the “magic trick” behind it is revealed.
Such interest it is far from being a mere nostalgia for pre high-tech aesthetics, but it rather metaphorically constructs a certain awareness over the mechanics of reality perception. Serrano Rivas creates a perspective into the perspective - an enchanting disenchantment where, together with the suggestive environments the viewer finds itself part of, there is a revelation of the mechanics that allow the magic to happen.
text by Caterina Avataneo
Leonor Serrano Rivas first major solo institutional show in Spain at C3A (Cordova) opened last April 2019 and will be featured on Frieze Magazine in the October issue. She
is currently preparing for her second major institutional show in Spain, at Matadero (Madrid), opening in November 2019.