Building bridges between random objects and art, transforming public spaces with his inspired sculptures and colourful collages, Federico Uribe crafts pieces of art that quiver with a barely repressed energy.
Text By Mala Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy The Designer
These are sensual works that practically beg you to reach out and touch them, works of wonder perfected with a mix of personal inspirations and fine-art skills.
Art is a term that describes a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities, but is most often understood to refer to painting, film, photography, sculpture, and other visual media. Colombian conceptual artist Federico Uribe is an artist but with a difference; at the heart of his fascinating art is the principle of ‘repurposing’. Uribe creates sculptures which are not sculpted but constructed and woven in all kinds of ways; curious and unpredictable, intricate and compulsive – out of everyday objects!
Be it individual works or whole-room installations, his creations are made entirely out of ordinary commonplace items like thousands of shoes, coloured pencils, shoe laces, clothes hangers, corks, pencils, sneaker soles, screwed-in pieces of wood, mop heads – just about anything at all!
Born in Bogota, Colombia 1962, he lives and works in Miami. Uribe studied art at the University of Los Andes in Bogota and in 1988 left for New York to study under Luis Camnitzer, before moving to Miami. He has received international recognition and has not only successfully exhibited in New York City but also in several other cities of Italy, Spain, Mexico and Germany.
For the Boca Raton Museum of Art in South Florida, he created a site specific walk-in environment filling its entire 5,000 sq. ft. main gallery in an exhibition titled “The World According to Federico Uribe”, that went on from the 4 th of December 2011 to the 8th of January 2012.
Included in the exhibition were works from Uribe’s 2008 Animal Farm, a huge installation containing a life-sized farmer family made of coloured pencils, with flies hovering above, framed images on the walls, and a flocks of birds (fashioned with pliers) in flight across the “sky”. Additionally, the exhibition debuted Uribe’s new work – several life-sized palm trees made from the spines and fanned pages of books, and gardens constructed out of gardening tools.
Art aficionados applaud the fact that this consummate artist stays true to his DNA, is markedly original and injects his pieces with clear traces of his personality.
Putting in long days and with the help of a personally garnered miscellany he conjures up forms that are surreal in appearance and constituted out of repurposed items.
Incorporating elements of surprise, movement and charm into carefully considered designs, Uribe’s work combines sensual curves with sharp edges, abstract with the classical, but always monumental, summing up the artist’s vision completely.
Uribe’s art-making is a labour-intensive, repetitive and compulsive process which re-envisions how the world around us is perceived. He introduces irony, humour, childhood memories and fantasy in his work, with a fresh association of materials and ideas. He transforms the objects of daily life into new objects that have a different significance, appearance and texture.
Once the viewer gets past the “wow” factor of the work, Federico Uribe’s world entices the viewer to physically experience and complete the work by interacting with it in a personal way.