Featured Artist Nicolás Uribe

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Please can you tell us about your artistic practice?

I’m a contemporary figurative painter, with a strong naturalistic foundation based on working from observation, paired with a filtered sense of expression and abstraction. I’m interested in the acknowledgement of how the passage of time and our attachment to it transforms and at times distorts our perception and our sensibility. This awareness comes from the relationship we have with our everyday nature alongside with the close interactions to the people that surround us. My intention is to translate into paint the affiliation I have with the people I meet, the time I share with them, the way they aid me in the construction of the manner in which I try and comprehend nature.

What art education have you received?

I studied at the School of Visual Arts and was somewhat traditionally trained.  By “somewhat traditional” I mean it was a mix of solid academic concepts that were somewhat akin to a post impressionistic-realist-naturalist tradition of painting from life, alongside with classes that pushed an expressive output that constantly put to test the more classical ideas. In many ways, I’m very grateful that my education was not dogmatic, but instead stimulated critical thought. Different wonderful teachers each taught us the manner in which they sensibly perceived nature. It was up to us to pick whatever we deemed useful for our own paths.

Where do you see your work sitting in relation to figurative and abstract work?

I’ve never been one to feel kinship to any exclusive ideals behind painting. I’ve always felt that I simply enjoy experiencing good painting, wherever it may come from. In that sense, David or Bouguereau may inspire and move me in the same sense that Rothko and Kline would. The whole of it is painting and as a painter I feel that I be remiss if I neglected to let myself be moved by that wide range of stimuli.

Where were you born / brought up and how has this affected your painting?

I was born in Madison, WI, USA, and quite frankly, I’m not sure that my birthplace affected my work in a particular manner since I only lived there for one year, my first year. But as soon as my family returned to Colombia, Bogotá became my home and constantly provokes my reflections. The social dynamics, both the warmness and indifference in people, the very temperamental weather and the urban geography of a city that was constructed in a wetland right next to the mountains, the ever-changing  urban landscape, all of it is me. The vast overarching grayness, a concrete atmosphere that envelopes people. It feels like ruins that are alive.

What and whom are your influences?

They are vast, and come from very different worlds. But if I had to try and select the most relevant ones, my mother and father undeniably had the largest and deepest impact on my life. In terms of my training, I can say that three teachers were absolutely essential for my formation and they’re ever-present in my mind – Steve Assael, Max Ginsburg and Sam Martine. As far as painters, the list is endless and frequently mutating, but there a few consistent names- Velázquez, Rembrandt, Zorn, Sorolla, Sargent, Eugene Carriere, Edwin Dickinson, Kathe Kollwitz, Giacometti, Morandi, James Castle and more contemporary ones like Antonio López, Lucian Freud, Phil Hale, Alex Kanevsky, Ann Gale, Euan Uglow, Kent Williams, Ruprecht von Kaufmann, Ashley Wood, Dave McKean, Mike Mignola. I also enjoy and respect tremendously illustrators like Jorge González, Adam Rex, Oliver Jeffers… I would honestly tire from citing artists, writers, film makers, concept artists, people that I admire. I always try to enjoy what moves me and understand the reason behind why I’m attracted to interesting human beings.

Can you tell us about your crowd funding book?

It was a wonderful, frightening, very fulfilling experience that left me many lessons, the most important of all being the obligation behind responding to people, answering to their generosity with hard work and honesty.

Can you tell us about Death of a Co worker?

I was a late invitee to the original group, and I can’t say enough cool things about it. It’s just tremendously exciting and comforting working with other artists, feeling that you have the liberty to paint as you please. Amazing, very talented and generous artists all around.

Do you have any shows coming up?

I’m showing a Self Portrait currently in a show with a fantastic roster of artists at Eleventh Street Arts, and in late 2018 I’m having a solo show with nucleus gallery.

How do you juggle life and painting?

I try and not think of them as two separate aspects of life. I live my life and painting, observing, reflecting upon what surrounds me, it is all part of it. My daughter and son, my mom, my brother and sisters, my nieces and nephews, my girlfriend, they’re all just as part of painting as my paints and brushes. They’re all essential to the make-up of my life. Painting to me makes sense when you live, when you can tell a story about yourself through paint.

Do you teach, how often and where?

It was never something I anticipated, but I do teach quite often and enjoy it immensely! I do so mainly at the Visual Arts Faculty of the Javeriana University in Bogotá, where I teach Drawing from Life and Painting. I also teach two workshops a year at Blank Atelier. For some time now teaching has become an integral part of my life and fundamental to the considerations I make on art.

Do you have a place you are trying to move towards in your work?

Simplicity. Closeness to a human experience. A more organic bond with paint in that it’s a reflection of my perception and my sensibility. I want to be less conscious of what a painting should be, and just interpret my life through paint.

In practical terms, how do you organise your life? work / income / making work / creative projects?

Like I said, I view my life as whole, not as a business. In that sense, I just try and enjoy make the best of the opportunities that life gives me.  At times life gives me the chance to emphasize painting projects, other times it provides me with the chance to share and appreciate time with my family. I think the trick is to understand that even though we understand ourselves as painters, we’re not here just to paint and work and think about color and form, but we’re also here to listen and to learn and to try and understand.

What is a usual day for you?

Every day is a combination of going to the Faculty and teaching and coming back home to paint. I also try and work during the day, just because I got used to looking at my palette and recognize and have affinity with my colors under daylight.

Do you always work from life?

No, not at all, but I am aware and promote the significance and the relevance of working from life and find it to be an experience that can’t be substituted by any other. It is highly complex and challenging every single time. It is both humbling and absolutely invigorating.