Federico Herrero
Where melodies dwell

May 24th – Jun 29th, 2024
Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf

Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf

Text based on the forthcoming essay
Federico Herrero: Painting can look back at you
by Jérôme Sans, 2024

Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf

For his eighth solo exhibition at Sies + Höke, Federico Herrero presents a series of paintings alongside a predominant in-situ wall-painting in the gallery’s entrance made up of his emblematic brightly colored geometric compositions. Known for his vibrant organic shapes, the Costa Rican artist understands poetry as visual language and seeks to find art in all realms of life. By creating abstract landscapes that are inextricably linked to nature and beings, and by bringing his work outside of the canvas, Herrero aims to dissolve the boundaries between art and everyday life. Through his large-scale paintings on canvas but also on walls, floors, ceilings, or windows, he extracts vibrations, movements, and sounds from shapes and colors, infusing musicality and new meaning into the spaces he inhabits.

In his intricate post-geometrical compositions, Herrero brings to life irregular, soft, almost liquid shapes. He uses the static pictorial medium to convey continuous motion, with forms that seem to vibrate, stretch, and expand across flat surfaces. Over-saturated at times, his compositions reflect the contemporary overflow of images and information in the digital age.

Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf

Herrero’s expansive work draws inspiration from the architecture and urban structures of his hometown San José. Through his visible obsession with an urban body that is rarely finalized, his work is intimately linked to movement. The artist is particularly interested in the way forms interact with each other, in the particular tension that arises within these ambiguous, liminal spaces where shapes touch. Like the painter Etel Adnan, he translates color into language, into poetry.

Indubitably linked to the legacies of twentieth century abstract art, Herrero's reliance on shapes and color to produce meaning positions him in the footsteps of Wassily Kandinsky’s famous color theory and the Bauhausian approach to the power of color and form. He updates these theories for the contemporary era with his less precise, more fluid shapes, which resonate in new ways amidst today's digital backdrop. His canvases resist the sharpness typical of geometric abstraction, instead favoring a "soft edge" approach that defies traditional boundaries and invites open interpretation.

Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf

Herrero’s background in architecture informs his interest in painting in the public realm, his questionings on how space in general shapes perception, and his quest to create new collective spaces with his art. He values the spontaneous interaction with his surroundings, which is integral to his creative process. Unlike Sol LeWitt, whose compositions were meticulously preconceived, Herrero relies on improvisation and is always responsive to the space he works within, which imbues his work with an abstract expressionist quality and organic flow.

A contemporary successor to the early 20th Century Central American muralist tradition, Herrero’s murals diverge from the politically charged works of predecessors like Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Instead, his murals celebrate the present moment and engage communities, serving as an invitation to collective reflection and interaction. Herrero seeks to blur the boundary between life and art, evident in his everyday observations captured in photographs as "found paintings." These images—brightly painted patterns and objects from streets like curbs, signs, and pavements—highlight his fascination with how painting integrates into daily life, extending beyond traditional canvases. Inspired by artists like Hélio Oiticica and Jesús Rafael Soto, known for their Penetrable works, he views painting as a sensory and bodily experience, inviting viewers to navigate through it.

Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf

In this exhilaration through sensorial experiences, Federico Herrero’s work stands like a cheerful hymn to life, to the most basic elements that shape one’s existence: senses, shapes and colors. Herrero notes: “I’m triggered by the possibility that paintings can know something about you, that they can understand how they should be and can guide me.” One must be prepared to look deep into Federico Herrero’s works and welcome an open, reciprocal conversation with them. To him, you are not the only one looking. Painting can look back at you.

Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf
Copyright the artist; Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf; Photo Tino Kukulies, Düsseldorf

About Federico Herrero

Federico Herrero is a Costa Rica-based artist whose practice encompasses painting on canvas, public wall-painting and sculptural installations.

Artworks

Previous Exhibition