Gabriel Rivera, a native Californian artist, officially began his art career at Cal State University, Northridge as a classical guitar music major. The rigors of the intense musical training schedule did not inspire him as he had hoped so he left school to pursue his love of making music and formed his own band. The Los Angeles music scene was a place of creative excitement and opportunity for an artist with wild ideas and Rivera inadvertently started painting due to the overwhelming demand for original artwork combined with a flamboyant theatrical trend that permeated the music community at that time. Rivera painted guitars, leather jackets, stage backdrops, vans, drum kits and created costumes and elaborate stage presentations for his own band as well as others. He looked for any way to express himself and never limited his artistic voice to one medium which would ultimately form the foundation of his creative philosophy. After 10 years of recording and performing original music, the pressures of collaboration took their toll and Rivera left the music scene to concentrate entirely on transmitting his artistic vision through painting.
Throughout his musical career Rivera supported himself working in the printing industry gaining an extensive knowledge of offset printing, silkscreening and typesetting preparing him for his next medium of computer illustration and design. Rivera was able to find work at a Valencia based graphic design and digital output company where he became proficient in digital illustration and began creating computer generated artwork for big business clients with many unique graphic needs. Slowly he began incorporating fresh ideas inspired by this new medium into his large scale canvas works.
Rivera's paintings can be easily described as having an "industrial" overtone. He is fascinated by the complexity and urgency of urban life and the plethora of information we are constantly bombarded with at every moment. The layers of metropolitan life are represented in his paintings by miscellaneous shapes, drawings, icons, words, phrases and colors covering the canvas yet naturally canceling each other out until there is nothing but an overwhelming sense of mental tranquility. The writing is purposely illegible and ceases to have meaning while the visual chaos of the work ultimately becomes a mirror reflecting how out of control we've let our world become and the unfortunate results of this phenomenon. The elements are stacked on top of each other, painted over, painted out, scratched, sanded and abused until he feels as if the painting itself has been sitting at an old bus stop for forty years in the sun and rain waiting for a ride that never comes, trading beauty for wisdom but retaining beauty all the while.
Rivera says, "Imperfection inspires me to paint. When something becomes so perfect that even the slightest blemish is imperceptible, that thing becomes static, void of creative force and uninteresting. Uninteresting because that very perfection destroys the fundamental law of life which recognizes that all phenomena are just energy in flux, constantly moving and changing, always becoming something new."