None of us can turn back time: we cannot free ourselves from the ideas, symbolic values and experience that crossed through our past and to some extent they always remain present in our everyday. But we can without a doubt challenge, question, and recontextualise them. This is the context in which it is important to understand the work of Ignacio Uriarte, who, before becoming an artist, obtained a degree in business administration and started his career in the corporate world. Although Uriarte’s artistic activity crosses through the ideas and formal languages related to the legacy of Minimal and Conceptual art, it needs to be stressed that he primarily grounds his work in his past experience as corporate employee. This can be seen very clearly in the artist’s use of tools and methods, which are similar to those of any office worker, especially when it comes to working in a routine way over a certain period of time – an aspect that stands out as a focal point of Uriarte’s work.
The exhibition Three Ways to Draw and One Way to Call for Attention represents Uriarte’s third collaboration with Gaep and tries to encompass his main artistic interests by means of works on paper and sound. As the relation between routine and time is a focal point of Uriarte’s work, this exhibition is no different: it naturally shows different “modes” in which the artist reenacts various repetitive routines over and over within a certain time frame. Rather than presenting a “chronology” of Ignacio Uriarte’s activity, the exhibition tries to point out the main characteristics that define the majority of works, from his employment of ephemeral in the materialised presentation of the work, to his specific strategy of defining the status of an artwork in relation to established systems of contemporary art. Uriarte’s minimal and often completely ephemeral gestures of our everyday debunk the myth of the artist and its role within the system; yet, in the case of this particular exhibition, the “three ways of drawing” juxtaposed on the upper floor of the gallery function also as impulses that are directly tackling the viewers’ perception, either by “measuring errors” through traces that were left by a typewriter or a stamp or by various ways of scribbling that define different shapes, colors and grading of the intervened surfaces. The space on the basement is dedicated to “one way to call for attention”, which is “defined” through a sound installation that represents Uriarte’s urge in crossing various mediums, while also giving rise to a suspense between visual and non-visual.
At first glance, the exhibition is formally simple and temporally limited. A closer look reveals however the endeavours on which Uriarte builds the conceptual foundations for various segments of his work. Bearing in mind that Ignacio Uriarte has been active as a professional artist for more than fifteen years, it is important to mention that this exhibition is not another small retrospective, but rather an overview of the artist’s examination of the ways we observe and experience art. Finally, it seems that the entire exhibition consists of precisely selected “entries” that are Uriarte’s appropriation of our everyday gestures which resist the physical inertia of the artwork. Consequently, this establishes a constant tension between material and something that exists only on the edge of material presence.
Text by Tevž Logar, curator