"When I was first introduced to Riva's works, my art historical roll-a-dex turned to prior works in clay. I recalled Tangara terracottas, Etruscan works, fast forward to some clay pieces I had seen in the Bargello, to clay works by Bernini, Duquesnoy, and Mochi. And I especially thought that Riva had been taken by the brilliant works by the scapialitura sculptors who works in Milan and Rome at the end of the 19th and throughout the 20th centuries. Collectively, it is these works that fed the imagination of Riva to move to his own world of manipulation of clay.
But the negative spaces of Riva's works -- those areas that are not filled with materials -- are also important, and one wonders if he had looked to his earlier 20th century brethren such as Giacometti, and to Gonzalez. I have a feeling that somewhere back in Riva's studio there are earlier experiments of his work in this realm of the surreal, of the absurd, that he too had produced works that feed off of this outer realm of our consciousness.
The big imponderable for me with Riva's works is his use of color: I'm undecided whether it functions or not. What is certain, however, it that its inclusion gives his works an edge that I guess would otherwise leave the work bereft or deprived.
Works of art never function in a void and come alive with discourse and engagement sparked any number and combination of means: by allusions to art history, a sense of place, to biographical data about an artist, and to descriptions to their works. How these elements come together is also part of the game. More often than not it is a rebus as to how to put these thoughts and observations together, and more often than not, it is what we bring to the discourse that creates a deeper experience with the work in question. Perhaps because of the musings above, your own engagement with the works of Riva are richer than ever".
Timothy J. Standring (Gates Foundation Curator of Painting & Sculpture Denver Art Museum)
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