10 Things to know about Yolanda del Riego
1. Spanish/American visual artist
Yolanda del Riego is a Spanish/American visual artist.
YR (1943) was born during the political exile of her parents, who had fled Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Although born in Central America, YR returned to Spain as a young child and spent her formative years in Madrid. YR moved to the United States in 1965, where she lived and trained as an artist. She returned definitively to Madrid in 1981.
2. Decades of work in a variety of mediums
Yolanda del Riego has been expressing herself through a variety of mediums for over four decades.
At heart, she considers herself a printmaker and printmaking is the lens through which she approaches other mediums in which she works, such as painting, collage, drawing, watercolor, patchworks, and more recently, digital formats.
Her works, described by critics as lyrical abstraction, are often abstract expressions of nature. YR’s personal use of color, textures, reliefs and translucencies, along with an exquisite care in the selection of her supports, make up a unique visual language that can be appreciated across all her works.
3. Trained as a printmaker in Alaska
Yolanda del Riego began printmaking during the 1970s at the Visual Arts Center of Alaska, where she studied printmaking techniques with a number of influential artists such as Dr. Jules Heller, Misch Kohn, Tōshi Yoshida, Lee Chesney, Clinton Cline, Carol Summers, and John Sommers (Technical Director of the Tamarind Institute) among others.
4. Nonconformist and unconventional in her approach to printmaking
For Yolanda del Riego, art is an adventure that involves choosing a path through an infinite number of possible outcomes. As each step in the technical process presents its own unique set of possibilities, the technical process becomes intimiately tied to the creative process itself. For this reason, Yolanda del Riego has always carried out the entire printmaking process herself —from the preparation and creation of the plates to the inking and printing—and it is why she creates her own digital files.
Yolanda del Riego is so passionate about the etching press, with its use of plates and acids, that the works she creates have nothing to do with graphic artwork, with editions...She uses the etching press not as if it were an instrument of re-impression or serialization but rather, most of the time, as an instrument of creation, that is, she uses the press like a brush. And the works that the artist creates, with exceptions, are unique (and have almost nothing to do with what were once frequently referred to as monotypes). Through her rejection of printing as a mere process for impression [copy], Yolanda del Riego has succeeded in turning it into the creative process itself. Her works have the attraction and undertones that are so characteristic of unique works.
—Francesc Miralles. “Yolanda del Riego, tórculo sobre pincel”.
Review of Yolanda del Riego, Galería Mariá Salvat (Barcelona).
Diario LA VANGUARDIA (Barcelona), October 20, 1989, pg. 11.
5. Began working with digital formats in the early 2000s
Yolanda del Riego began working with digital tools and technologies in the early 2000s. She studied Photoshop in Seattle (in 2004 and 2005) and exhibited her first digital prints in 2006.
Through images manipulated using a repertoire of techniques and interpretations, Del Riego transforms the idea of documentary to iconographic images with multiple visual twists by playing with the sequence of time in which the events happened. Landscapes, a large part of her previous works, now become the stamp of urban aesthetics, reminiscent of the most classic pop and “mass media” events. However, the originality of her work and the impeccable mastery of the procedures used (photomontage, digital printing ...) based on removing and adding elements to the representation (as stated by Marin Medina), once again raises Yolanda del Riego to the heights.
—Amalia García Rubí. “Yolanda del Riego, arde el Windsor”.
Review of welcome!, Galería Rafael García (Madrid).
El Punto de las Artes (Spain), November 24–30, 2006, pg. 5.
6. Working almost exclusively in digital
Yolanda del Riego has been working almost exclusively in digital formats since 2008. She creates her digital files using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, sometimes by starting with a snapshot taken on one of her walks. As she disassembles the images, she adds textures, layers and drawing using an optical pen. The resulting prints achieve the qualities of her woodcuts and etchings.
While so many artists today strive to carry out their printmaking work in digital, Yolanda del Riego has spent years investigating its limits and creating works that, both conceptually and artistically, are not only forceful but of extraordinary beauty. Yolanda del Riego is totally immersed in the revolution that has accelerated within the last years with the arrival of supports and technological instruments. This allows her to add ideas that are formed in reality and beyond it, where the stylus has replaced the burin. This world that we live in, and which does not stop, is the one that Yolanda del Riego wants to master with her creations in the most attractive and unique supports.
—Carmen Rodríguez Perales, from the exhibition introductory text for YR desde el grabado. Trayectoria creativa de Yolanda del Riego 1976-2015
7. Nature and environmental issues are common themes of her work
Nature has always been an important inspiration for Yolanda del Riego and her concern over environmental issues —such as marine pollution, deforestation and climate change— has increasingly become the primary subject of her work. (See YR in support of Nature for more details.)
...the referential key to [Yolanda del Riego’s] art is Nature...This incorporation of abstraction and Nature, in the case of del Riego, has not led to “typical” landscape paintings but rather to a deep and heartfelt painting of landscapes, through which the picture ends up becoming more an “invocation “ of Nature, rather than a rerepresentation of landscape themes.
—José Marín Medina
Catalog essay for the solo exhibition Los 4 Elementos
Casa-Fuerte Bezmilana (Rincón de la Victoria, Málaga), 2003
View the exhibition catalog [PDF]
YR's recent exhibitions, Triangulation Through Science Communication (2017), Climate Change. An Artist's Perspective (2016), Unsustainable Escalation (2016), The Sea As I See It (2015) and Trees to Meet You (2014) have almost exclusively focused on the negative effects of environmental degradation and climate change.
8. One of four artists that represented Spain in the 16th Biennale D'Alexandrie
As if analogy of new possible worlds, and the forcefulness with which Kandinsky was referring to when he speaks of ‘absolute’ or ‘objective works’, YOLANDA DEL RIEGO achieves through her intelligent manipulation of materials a haunting formal beauty. One can perceive an extreme discipline in the organization of such evocative ‘chaos’ that achieves its maximum expressiveness through cut-up shapes, overlapping weaves, and nuanced colors. With a prodigious imagination and a freedom that comes from knowledge of the most varied techniques, Yolanda del Riego’s personal language defines a final solution that captures us and keeps us absorbed in front of each one of her works.
9. Selected one of the 20 best artists at ARCO 2001
Yolanda del Riego was named one of the 20 best artists at ARCO Madrid 2001 by the ABC Cultural.
Twenty for the Twenty [years]
As in previous editions, the [art] critics of the ABC Cultural select, in their judgement, the twenty best artists at ARCO 2001, a figure that coincides with the number of the present edition.
YOLANDA DEL RIEGO
(Galería Eude, Barcelona)
Yolanda del Riego continues looking for light and color through new materials and techniques. She starts her search at dawn, when the world is gray and the colors are about to wake up, ready to catch them at sunrise or to subdue them at nightfall. She offers them to us on exotic panels, modestly but with passion.