Ignacio Uriarte (1972) was born and grew up in Krefeld in Germany. He studied business administration in Madrid and Mannheim, then worked for various corporations in Germany, Spain and Mexico. There, he graduated in audio-visual arts from the Centro de Artes Audiovisuales in Guadalajara, Mexico. He left the corporate world ten years ago and dedicated himself fully to art, calling his work “office art”, and moved to somewhat more artist-friendly Berlin in 2007. Saying no to a regular job did not mean that he had also left the office behind. The work of a petty bureaucrat provided him an expressive framework. The method of work remained the same: the exhibited form reveals a story of repetition and routine, the lethargy of the creative individual, which is the result of monotonous administrative tasks. However, our conscious or unconscious behaviour in an office – making paper balls or doodling – reveals an urge to create. In an artistic context , “office art” is a continuation of the minimalist and conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s, which approached the disappearance of the format of art.
Diagonal Equation (2012) and Erased Crossings (2012) are images of something erased, images at the limit of existence, drawn with an inkless pen and the trace of an eraser on a pencilled background: whites and monochrome forms which hint at the manual, banal, pointless and laborious work involved in its creation.
The orderly bureaucratic modernism of inefficiency is further amplified in the paper installation Fold Spin Couples (2011) and the logically arranged work protocols of the work +/- (2011), where minimal changes in the density and order of characters play with perception in a minimal op-art type-written production. The typewriter, reminiscent of offices in the past, as an art medium is not new. Uriarte has joined a circle of its admirers, which includes Marcel Duchamp, whose typewriter cover Travellers Folding Item (1916) was the first soft sculpture, and Edward Ruscha, who threw a typewriter from his Buick in 1967. Similarities can also be found in Slovenia, most prominently in the work of poet Franci Zagoričnik in the late 1960s.
The formal coloured work in the next room was made with ink and ball-point pens. The minimalist aesthetic of the monochromes defined by the choice of medium also draws inspiration from the formalism of high modernism. Even the sound design, which twists and shrinks in space in the rhythm of 1-2-3-4-3-2-1, screams of purity, the clinical corporate environment of offices. It is joined by a repetitive animation entitled Blue Ribbon (2012).
In Uriarte’s work, the format and medium are clearly also a reflection of external reality. They are inscribed with the (uncreative?) work of bureaucrats, which the artist chooses to retain in the working process. Art is created merely by using the utensils, the tools, of a class which has been falling down the social ladder in recent years. Coupled with an artistic approach, the creativity which emerges in an uncreative environment gives us hope that we will see the light.
Thanks to: Zdenka Badovinac and Tomaž Kučer, MG+MSUM, Nogueras Blanchard & Galleria Gentili, Alenka Gregorič, MGML, Sören Meschede, Asociación Hablar en Arte, Jani Pirnat, curator, Nevenka Šivavec and Yasmin Martin Vodopivec, MGLC.
Coproducer: KC Tobačna 001 / MGML
The project is sponsored by: the Embassy of Spain in Ljubljana, Goethe-Institut Ljubljana. Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana
All images courtesy of Nogueras Blanchard & Galleria Gentili.
You are kindly invited to the artist talk with Ignacio Uriarte, taking place on Thursday, 8th August, at 6 pm at Škuc Gallery.
You are also invited to the guided tour of the exhibition with the curator, Petja Grafenauer, on Thursday, 22nd August, at 6 pm at Škuc Gallery.