Maria Rivans is a contemporary British artist, known for her scrapbook-style collage aesthetic. A mash-up of Surrealism meets Pop-Art, Rivans’ work re-appropriates vintage ephemera to create dreamy realms, which transport the viewer into fantastical worlds of the imaginary, each one suffused with vivid colour, arresting imagery, intricate detail and finished with a dusting of subtle humour.
Rivans’ artwork is known for its unique approach to collaging; intertwining different film and TV genres – from vintage Hollywood to 1970s sci-fi, B-movies and TV trash – her work is in a constant dialogue with cultures of the past, reinventing existing film plots and narratives while spinning bizarre, dreamlike tales. Her use of collage reflects the complex and fragmented world from which the art arises, but an attention to beauty and to the harmony of composition gestures optimistically towards the social capacity to piece it all back together again.
In her Pin-up series, Rivans reclaims iconic femininity to champion female strength. Each individual movie star develops their own identity as if they were a solid, memorable character starring in one of Rivans’ invented scripts. These leading ladies have been highly influenced by strong female actors like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford who made a huge impression on Rivans when she was a child, and each character holds qualities of women who are particularly empowered and have often been named after famous women explorers and inventors. These exotic and escapist works are often also laced with ominous undertones, to remind us of the darker side of human nature; utopian imagery from 1950s pop-culture speaks to today’s obsession with consumerism while a persistent love of sci-fi illustrates the fact that Rivans’ work is always a meditation on the greater question of ‘life, the universe and everything’.
By appropriating an array of sourced vintage ephemera, Rivans seeks to overwhelm us with her compositions by combining vivid and seductive colours with powerful and often humorous imagery. Her process begins with her extensive collection of vintage ephemera, which she scavenges from antique books and retro magazines, always on the look-out for that perfect ‘something’ in second-hand shops and at market stalls. Like piecing together an unruly jigsaw puzzle, Rivans begins to collate and assemble the skilfully cut-out fragments and scraps, labouring over long periods and making alteration after alteration, until the collage begins to take shape. Through an intense attention to detail and an artistic sensitivity to colour and composition, each of Rivans’ artworks is the product of months of careful deliberations and decisions, every tiny tweak necessary in the final formation.