At the Studio: Ignacio Uriarte

They call him an “office artist” and this might just be the right title. When entering Ignacio Uriarte‘s studio in Wedding, I immediately recognize the high level of organisation, perfectly sorted pens and properly labelled files fill the shelves. And I actually don’t believe him, when one of the first things he tells me is that he’s essentially unorganized in his private life. Because his work heavily draws from all sorts of office related materials, methods and routines. Like drawings made with standard office pens in blue, black, green and red and their respective combinations, created in hours of repetitive work of drawing circles. Resulting in a sensory aesthetic quality that is rather surprising, considering the austere Sisyphus process leading to their creation. This antagonism constructs, at least for me, the major attraction of his work. Like when he had Blixa Bargeld read ASDFGHJKLÖ for his piece at ABC and his rough yet warm voice made the deadpan letters taken from the middle line of a typewriter’s keyboard actually sound intriguing.

Alongside countless pens, Uriarte’s studio houses many many type writers from all decades – very heavy and completely mechanical machines stand next to electronic devices, all with their very own typefaces, faults and specialities.

The hours Uriarte spends constantly typing or drawing his art works are still tangible in the final creations, aligning him with artists like Hanne Darboven, who he names as a major influence. Yet the way he shapes and colors his works is more free, even more sensual than the very strict pieces of Darboven, placing him close to Italian artist Alighiero Boetti and his pen drawings. But then time and repetitive routine meet Uriarte’s contemporary point of view, the austere methods of hand drawing or typing giant images feature a nostalgia without becoming cheesy.

Ignacio Uriarte’s work is currently on display at the Drawing Center New York, Kunsthalle Exnergasse Vienna and at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. He’s represented by Figge von Rosen.

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