James Cohan is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Federico Herrero, on view from May 12 through June 17, 2023, at the gallery’s 52 Walker Street location. This is Herrero’s fourth solo exhibition with James Cohan. The gallery will host an opening reception with the artist on Friday, May 19 from 6-8 PM.
This exhibition is accompanied by an essay written by independent curator and writer Alejandro Ortiz.
Federico Herrero: Mutating the topographic memory
By Alejandro Ortiz
In his most recent exhibition, Federico Herrero once again suggests open questions about what landscape could mean, but also formulates an evolving proposal of what already exists. His eye and hand combine to dilate an immense reflective field where ecology and nostalgia coexist. Herrero employs the paintbrush to propose a collection of pictorial memories that reflect the tension and link between voracious urban growth and nature’s resistance.
For this exhibition, the artist incorporates, across nine paintings, an emotional landscape formed by tones that, in relation to the architecture of the gallery, propose questions about the limits of color and its form. In his works, whether on canvas or the concrete of the city, Herrero proposes choreographies of color within a narrative framework linked to the idea of "tropicality." Although this label has worked to situate the artist during the last two decades, Herrero sees it as a trigger for new considerations and questioning.
For Herrero, “tropical” has meant the language of the familiar, but nowadays he comes to link notions such as tropicália to feelings such as loss and anxiety. This exhibition defragments a collection of images that were conceived after exploring his own internal nature and express the artist’s complex feelings about his place in the world, a visual map of emotional as well as physical journeys.
Unfinished buildings where flora claims a place, earthquakes, a silent garden, ferry trips, swimming pools, his studio, floods, and Costa Rican cities transforming delineate the affective encounter where Herrero foots his memory. "All the territories that I have known and experienced feed my work,” says the artist.
Topography is the ability to analyze as well as graphically describe Earth's surface–both its natural and man-made elements. In this exhibition, Herrero creates a painted record facilitated by restless brushes dancing across monumental canvases, a new and intimate notion of the topographic exercise. Here, the artist situates a keen, constant observation and sense of belonging to the world within his prismatic way of painting and feeling. This notion is indisputably involved in time and history construction, specifically Herrero’s personal memory, one that is always mutating. The painter notes, “It’s a way of seeing the landscape as an extension of our perception, a kind of mirror of existence.”
In the face of capitalized time, Herrero’s slowing down and reflecting upon the transformation of nature becomes a radical choice that can unfold new possibilities. In a world filled with pixels and screens, Herrero creates with his hands a subjective space where landscape is not precisely but rather expressively rendered. His images unfold and uncover the layers of nature to contemplate and understand our shared surfaces.