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Monday, October 25, 2010

Ye Olde Classmates: Nicolas Uribe

I probably learned as much from Nicolas at SVA New York as I did from my instructors. I wrote a little bit about this and posted some of his old student paintings on Cefaloblog. I rarely have met a student so serious about his work. Contrary to what most people assume by looking at his work, there is nothing weird about Nicolas. He's quiet, well-spoken, and totally nonchalant about most things. As you'll find on his blog, he's not interested either in self-absorbed artspeak or haughty classical ideals. His website seemed to be under construction last time I tried, but maybe you'll have better luck.

I have often debated in defense of Nicolas Uribe's paintings, and have come to realize that his work actually defies many things I profess to believe about art. Yes, the photo is totally present. Yes, they are largely cool, ironic, witty, clever and hip. Why, then, does it stand up to me as great painting? On the surface, the subject matter seems a shield against experience or emotion, but I don't think that's the case. Nicolas loves human skin, and sincerely loves the tactility of representing it in oil paint, and everything else is beside the point. In my opinion it is that impulse above all that drove most of Art History.

Art theory and philosophy aside, Nicolas paints like nobody's business, and I can't stop looking at them over and over again. But he's not merely a copycat or renderer. The thing I probably enjoy most about his work is the exploration in it. He's constantly pushing his own boundaries and looking for ways to challenge himself.

Nicolas is a great draftsman too.

I had never seen someone paint over reproductions of masterpieces before Nicolas, at least not in a well-done and interesting way.

The one above is a long-time favorite of mine.

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