Born in Argentina, Pato Rivero comes from San Miguel de Tucumàn, in the country’s North East region. He studied graphic design and had a particular interest in photography, which became his means of expression. This keen interest lead the young man to leave his city of birth to move to Buenos Aires in order to enrol atthe Andy Goldstein School of photography (Escula de Fotographia Creativa). It’s precisely in the Argentinean capital where PatoRivero started his career as photographer. Aaself-taught musician, painter and drawing artist, he developped a style synthesising all these disciplines in the structure of his images. Having an intuitive understanding of colour and lighting, he distinguished himself also by a very unique technique of film processing. He collaborated with several famous Argentinean designers, particularly in his “Erase unavez” series (Once upon a time) where each image is styled by a different designer. Rivero also widened his experience by working for the theatre, the fashion industry and in television.
Since 2009, he’sbeen working as Photographic Editor for OLV Magazine - El Mundo del Olivo(The Olive Tree’s World), an Argentine and Uruguayan publication. The male nude is the most representative element of Rivero’s work. In the stories he depicts in his images, we can find numerous references to fairy tales (Charles Peyrault, the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Andersen). According to fellow artist and compatriot Juan Batalla, there is nothing natural in Pato Rivero’s shots. The images are created from beginning to end and offer a totally artificial vision which becomes a permanent feature and eventually the principal and most recognisable characteristic of his work. His use of darkness and light creates such a contrast as to portray the characters as living statues. The shadows have a vivid presence and out of their darkness, we feel the stirrings of strange forces. Through this process, the unrealistic becomes sublimated by the photographer. Batalla perceives in his peer’s work the baroque spirit of Caravaggio. In his nude photography, Rivero launches in a dramatic contrast between violence and stillness. Pato Rivero’s stance is best described by Rosa Olivares, Editor of Exit magazine: “In all these tales and magical stories, there is a new process of transformation from childhood to adulthood. Problems are solved according to the characters’ perseverance and qualities such as courage, loyalty, kindness, love and responsibility. These qualities are the springboard making it possible to face a very dangerous and ever-changing landscape.”
Can you describe your style, as a good friend would?
In Pato’s work, each element is carefully selected, with a very clear goal in the artist’s mind. Nothing is left to chance. The elements are combined in order to produce powerful symbolic images. His style is baroque, taking his author back to childhood memories, but also bearing a provoking and more mature side. This is a very good way to revisit one’s memories as an adult, far from the naive spirit that children may have.
What are your main influences?
I have a boundless admiration for Italian painters like Michelangelo, Raphael and Caravaggio. They are the inspiration for a good part of the figurative aspect of my work. Of course, there is also the use of chiaroscuro by other baroque painters. As I studied the manner in which they played with light, it opened-up my creative abilities, specifically regarding lighting effects. As far as literature goes, I am always on the look-out for books on legends, tales and traditions. I have widened my scope by adding texts from other South American countries. To me, cinema is a necessity-- from classic to contemporary films, whether they be national or international. There are movies that I’ll watch more than once, like Sally Porter’s Orlando, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner or Michel Haneke’s The Piano Teacher. They represent the artistic genre I am receptive to, from their aesthetic aspect to the incredible diversity in which stories are told.
Why so many references to tales and legends?
Both my father and my aunt took it upon themselves to awaken in me a taste for tales and legends. Reading them instilled some values in me.These readings are very significant for me. They represent a world where the imagination has no limit and where perseverance is triumphant. The legends from the North of my country usually come to us from a popular, oral tradition. In images such as Apacheta de Leyendas (pages 12, 18 and 26), I try to generate a curiosity for these stories, which I feel belong to me. They should never be forgotten, because they justified that which couldn’t be explained and dealt with the fears and hopes of a different era.
How do your pictures come to life?
I am a whimsical child. Images come to me all the time. But in a photographic series, it is essential to start with a single image. It has to be the main thread, the title on which to base the rest of the series. It will set the pace for the whole project. It is fundamental for me to know on a deep level what it is I want to say. Then, I can decide whether I wish to focus on the nude body, on clothes, on the setting, or on the general feeling, because they will set the mood, in the same way the aperture, speed and the ISO.
- Meet Pato Rivero in Normal Magazine n°4 -