Spanish artist Juan Rivas has shifted focus from outdoor interventions of Paintings in Place to indoor ‘paintings of illuminated space’ for a solo show coming to the Marcos Valcárcel Cultural Center in Ourense, Spain. For Light That Never Goes Out, Rivas captures light and its effect on shadowy spaces.
The title of the show refers to illuminated landscapes that have minimal human activity through the night, making the artificially lit space resemble a stage. Persistent and suggestive spotlight creates a peculiarly eerie atmosphere in which an absence of the human figure makes the location itself the subject; an illuminated focus point in the middle of nature. This conflict between artificial light and architectural elements intrigues Rivas, who is attracted to exploring the space where boundaries end or begin. Taking the “lit and the dull” or “what is seen and what is hidden” as counterpoints, he creates a strong series of poetic portrayals depicting typical unimportant landscapes on the very border of nature and urban life.
“I am interested in this way of representing in which the boundary of the image is not the frame of the canvas.” Rivas began his project in 2016 after painting the entrance of a house illuminated by a streetlamp. The spotlight illuminated part of a wall, the path and a hedge, leaving an indecipherable setting that suggests the space does not end in light. Light illuminates the center of attention, becoming sharper and brighter than the rest of the image which becomes dark, blurry, and flat. Sometimes allowing darkness to dominate the light, Rivas adds tree shapes, silhouettes of a hill, or the lights of a city to accent his experimentation with the border of the image and the frame of the canvas. –Sasha Bogojev