Contemporary art of Latin America is known for its richness in colors and forms. Much of the origin derived from the region's diversity of influences, from the indigenous creation during Mesoamerica period, the colonial ruling under the Spaniards and Portuguese, even to the geopolitical factors, such as the introduction of socialism.
In turn, the region became an incubator of renown contemporary artists; Aramando Morales, with his rich colorful oil painting, Fernando Botero's pudgy figures and etc...
Those factors also played a role in the younger generation of artist, like artist Federico Uribe. The Colombian artist won acclaims for his large trompe l'oeil paintings, mainly based on dark themes, the conflicts between sins, vices, and strict Catholic doctrines.
Though already famous for his beautiful paintings, Mr. Uribe wanted to widen his abilities as an artist and approach art from a brand new prospective. His quest took him from his studio to the streets and vendors, where he collected or purchased large quanity of everyday goods, goods whereby most people disregarded, Mr. Uribe saw values hidden within each of them. Soon, he altered his course as an artist, from a painter to a sculptor, by transforming these practical, everyday objects into 3-dimensional mosaics. All the while, still utilizing his sensibilities as a painter to create depth and colors. It is almost like paintings by Georges-Pierre Seurat or Chuck Close came alive.
Perhaps the most extensive and labor intensive for this extraordinary artist to date would be his latest project, "Human Nature", currently on display at Chelsea Art Museum in New York City. Made possible with the assistance from PUMA, the exhibition featured numerous animals, insects, plants, and sceneries of a tropical jungle, composed entirely out of PUMA sneakers. The rainforest theme of the installation served as a reminder, as the artist stated "When I started working with shoes I could not avoid thinking where they came from and all the materials from nature that we use to comfort our life. So as a tribute to what nature gives us all, I got the idea of reconstructing nature from its own raw materials. I can not give my creations true life but I may give them the echo of life, which is as much as art can do".
The impossible task started in July of 2006, when Mr. Uribe took 1,500 pairs of PUMA sneaker and 25,000 shoelaces, held their forms together with countless yards of wood and some 22,000 screws. Every components of the PUMA sneakers, were methodically planned out and utilized. Soles became bark of palm tree or toughen shell of turtle. Laces transformed into pond, tall grass, even blood. Jaguar pattern uppers metamorphosed into skin of life-size cat. Even the ManCat tooth logo, from PUMA's Alexander McQueen Collection, change into sharpen fangs of a snake. The show made its debut at Art Basel Miami Beach last December. During the installation's 4-days of exhibition, it drew up countless interests. Soon, Mr. Uribe was back at his studio again, and with an additional 200 pairs of sneakers and 10,000 shoelaces, constructed even more organisms and sceneries. Thus, the "coverage" of the current exhibition takes up a good portion of the floor space. Just like how each components of a sneaker were utilized, the make up of the space, down to the columns, were used.
This is a rare opportunity to view a collection that is filled with surprises at every scene and incites wonderment on the process of creating each piece. It is a must see if you're around the New York area. The show will be on display until August 18th.
Chelsea Art Museum
556 West 22nd Street | Map
New York, NY 10011
TEL #: 212-255-0719
Event Date: NOW! - August 18th (Saturday)
More photos after the jump...
Artist Federico Uribe