Steward: The Ballad of a Super Super
09 September–22 October, 2022

Charles Moffett is pleased to present, Steward: The Ballad of a Super Super, a solo exhibition of new work by New York-based artist Kenny Rivero. This marks the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery and his first New York show in two years. Following I Still Hoop (2020), Rivero’s last exhibition at Charles Moffett, the artist’s work has been exhibited in institutions across the country, including 2021 solo exhibitions at The Momentary, Bentonville, AR; Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, NY; and the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Vermont. Rivero’s work, which spans paintings, collage, drawings, and sculpture, explores the complexity of identity through narrative images, language, and symbolism. A first generation Dominican American born in Washington Heights, Rivero now lives and works in the Bronx. His aim is to deconstruct the histories and identities he has been raised to understand as absolute and to re-engineer them into new wholes, with new functions and new stories. His creative process allows him to explore what he perceives as the broken narrative of Dominican American identity, socio-geographic solidarity, familial expectations, race, and gender roles.

A trained musician, Rivero cites the hybrid qualities of salsa, hip-hop, house music, jazz, and merengue as core influences on his decision-making in the studio. Home to drums, keyboards, guitars and recording equipment, alongside paints, brushes, and canvases, Rivero’s studio is a site of intuitive and cross-disciplinary creation. Bringing a lyrical, instinctive approach to his painting practice in particular, Rivero begins a new work by applying and shifting paint on the canvas in a rhythmic fashion, echoing the music that fills the studio, and allowing the painting to improvisationally arrive to its pre-destined form. Emerging from a diverse religious upbringing that incorporated Christianity, Vodun, Santeria and Afro-Caribbean spiritual practices, Rivero’s hybrid faith poetically inflects his artistic practice. The artist’s personal spiritual practice and his evolving beliefs in the phenomena of faith, an afterlife, divination, and communication with the dead, are woven throughout his work. Often his paintings hint at a parallel world — one that feels familiar to the life and urban vernacular of his native Washington Heights, current home in the Bronx, or his ancestral home in Santiago and el Cibáo, yet ultimately rejects those realities and rather occupies a nebulous space hovering between the living and the dead.  

Kenny Rivero (b. 1981; lives and works in New York. MFA Yale 2012, BFA SVA 2006): Rivero's work is represented in notable public collections including The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; El Museo del Barrio, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Collection of Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Pérez Art Museum Miami, Florida; the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.