One of the first things I had to do when arriving in Barcelona was to contact local artist extraordinaire Uri and bug him to take me by his freshly opened exhibition Lo Ultimo en Pop Art at the very posh N2 Galeria. Meeting up with Uri is always the highlight of my trip — you’re not gonna meet a nicer, laid back colorful guy. Add the intellectual undertones of his works to that picture and you simply have an understated genius. We grab a quick bite and catch up, then it’s off to view the show. First, Uri rushes me through the exhibit to see his newest challenge — it’s a mad looking brightly colorful horse head made from some kind of polymer clay that sits centered in the front window of the gallery. His usually choice of media is acrylic on canvas; his color selections are amazingly put together to create an almost psychedelic infusion of paint. Two of the large paintings peak my interest the most: “Guernikation” and “Take your Karma Damien Hirst” – both very cheeky adaptations of their subject matter. But rather than get my interpretations of them, I turn to Uri to critique his own work… so as not to lose the subtle nuances.
Uri your show is very impressive. How long have you been working on these pieces for the exhibition?
I began to paint them once N2 Gallery said me yes ;) and It has been about 8 months.
The subject matter you have selected is mostly figurative — depicting famous people with a touch of cynical satire. How did you arrive at selecting your subjects?
It’s very easy to express an idea with some connotations everyone can interoperate behind a famous face or a famous image. It’s something we all grow with, like the image of Las Meninas, Guernica or Mona Lisa. It’s easy to reinterpret the whole idea just with a little change. I used to eat lunch seeing the news, and my country, Spain, it’s full of bastards and corrupt people, so it’s not me who put the cynical stuff on what I do, it’s them who bring it to my life. Most of the time I just found it done in my head. I just simplify my ideas. Yeah! That’s what I do, more than an adding, a connection.
Continue our Q&A with Barcelona artist Uri and view more of his work after the Jump…
“After some powerful experiences with mushrooms, I began to interpret what I see when I’m high…”
Your selection of colors are quite impressive; in each painting you have opted to use a multitude of the spectrum with no boundaries barred. Where has this stemmed from ?
Really? I always loved to paint colorful, but after some powerful experiences with mushrooms, I began to interpret what I see when I’m high. Polygonal images with hard pinks and hard intense greens. But many times I like to take attention, maybe while walking, about color combinations, and reactions in between. The true is I cannot paint in another way.
Some of your paintings combine the portraits of famous people in a juxtaposition of styles, appearing as almost two sided faces. Can you tell me more about these?
Oh yah! That’s a Picassian series in which I chose pop representative characters, all of them with some deep inside, and I mixed half of their faces with half Picasso’s portraits — and all this in a Warhol way of showing. Then I found Picasso with a self portrait of Picasso was a great image, and it concluded the whole series. Picasso’s characters reminds me sometimes of tortured souls.
The sculpture you have in this exhibition of a horse’s head looks as if it jumped out of one of your canvases and came to life. How did you create the sculpture and will you be making more work in this vein?
Si! That’s the face of “Guernica” horse. I began doing it as a complementary part of the canvas I did, but suddenly it took life on its own, and it could stand alone without necessarily being close to the version canvas of the “Guernica”. And yes, what I’m gonna do now is still paint of course, and continue working on that material, which I think is very related to the end result of my canvas.
I know you’re always busy working on many commissions; apart from those, what do you have next lined up ?
I’m gonna do three sculptures ;)
Lastly, how long have you lived in Barcelona ? What do you love best about the city, and can you tell us your all time favorite places to frequent ?
I born and grew here. I don’t really love the city, actually I think its shit and was better 10 years ago, but when I trip around I think the rest is even worst. Much much worst ;) And my favorite square is Sant Felip Neri.