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Arturo Herrera

28 March — 20 May 2007

This first major solo exhibition in the UK by Arturo Herrera included collage, sculpture, wall drawing and painting, as well as the artist’s first ever animation, made especially for Ikon.

The artist’s practice involves taking familiar imagery, often sourced from popular culture, and deconstructing it, only to recombine it with references from modernist abstraction and surrealism. These fragments, reconfigured by the artist through densely layered cut, painted and printed paper, result in rich and abstract hybrids. Well-known cartoon motifs such as castles are meticulously dissected to the point where they become barely recognisable.

In recent years, Herrera has experimented with prefabrication and permutation. For some recent large-scale collages, the artist commissioned an illustrator to produce images of a dwarf and a boy playing an accordion. Herrera made abstract drawings from each, painstakingly manipulating the images to obscure the original by varying degrees and recombining the fragments with abstract shapes and blocks of colour, thus expanding the vocabulary of collage beyond ideas of ‘cut and paste’. We may identify a familiar outline or contour of the appropriated imagery, stripped down to something almost indistinguishable, as we are ultimately confronted by powerful abstraction.

The centrepiece of this exhibition was the ambitious animation, Les Noces. This work comprises photographic and drawn details taken from Herrera’s previous works, characteristically cut and spliced to create new complex networks. Set to a ballet score of the same nameby Igor Stravinsky, the artist’s graphic visuals are complemented by its percussive musical idiosyncrasies.

This exhibition was kindly supported by the Goethe-Institut, MITES and the University of Central England.