Curated by SARAHCROWN founder Sarah Corona, WITHIN is Nigerian-born artist Osaretin Ugiagbe’s first solo exhibition since his return from London, UK. The exhibition presents Ugiagbe’s works from two recent series that he has been creating in the past year, a collection of paintings on canvas and more abstract, sculptural mixed media installations, “Bounty” and “Metal Summer.” These series both revolve around the ideas of self-reflection and belonging in different visual languages.
Osaretin Ugiagbe: WITHIN showcases both series conjointly to reveal Ugiagbe’s range of artistic process and persona, and the series’ duality in conversation with each other.
WITHIN will run between April 6 – June 26, 2021 at The Yard: Columbus Circle’s all three floors.
Ugiagbe utilizes his art to open up a space for existential interrogation. The “Bounty” series combines the concepts of self, memory, and the artist’s lifelong interest in portrait painting, using interiors from past experiences. These spaces within the canvas visualize a certain sense of confrontation. Ugiagbe, aiming to tackle and ultimately re-address the tradition of portraiture, hazily depicts the people around him; adding imprinted patterns of Bounty paper towels as a reminder of domesticity and the ephemeral. In these paintings, people appear like mysterious figures without faces, leaving it to the viewer to give them a name. Some of the more recent works, such as Picasso Hand (2021), show unfinished details that break the conformity of the composition. The “unfinished,” then, becomes a reminder of the ever-changing aspects in today’s life, of both the power of instability and reinvention.
“Metal Summer” is another way of dealing with similar subjects, yet has a more symbolic, abstract visual language as sculptural works that surpass disciplines. Ugiagbe uses the disintegration and layers over layers of paper, found objects, and metal clamps to externalize his relationship with the streets of cities that impacted him. As Ugiagbe approaches identity politics from the physical surface, these works signify how bureaucracy and physical labor have the power to shape culture. This technique he developed during his time at the Royal College of Art demonstrates a similarly arduous work, and requires many tasks: painting, drawing, folding, binding, ripping, cutting and layering of materials be it found objects, paper or canvas, all held together by metal clamps: a device, in the artist’s own words, “universal in its functionality to hold work, both the physical labour and the work of art, in place.” While the papers and found materials symbolize his personalized urban connection, the metal clamps are a visual manifestation of the physical labor and the working class. In a more metaphorical sense, the layers of paper can be recognized as the many layers of one’s personality, as the many layers of culture in one society, as the many different views people can have of one and the same thing. In a direct pastiche to Robert Rauschenberg, Ugiagbe adds layer after layer where Rauschenberg would tear away, until he is satisfied with his new “character.”
Both series, although perceptibly distant from each other, are intimately connected. Ugiagbe created both series contemporarily, moving between painting and sculpting and sometimes finishing up to 4 works at the same time. They also inform each other: While the canvases are a figurative description of feelings of belonging, personality, and home, the sculptural installations of “Metal Summer” address Ugiagbe’s rendering of the urban landscape, and complete that vision from the outside, from the world.
Location: The Yard – Columbus Circle 33 W 60th Street – 2nd, 11th, and 12th floor
On view: April 6 – June 26, 2021
Public hours: Mon – Fri 9:30 – 5:30
Color of Bruise, (Royal College of Art Degree Show) June 2019
10 Questions with Osaretin Ugiagbe (Hostos Community College)
Visiting Artist Talk at The Ruskin School of Art (University of Oxford) February 8, 2019
A New York State of Mind Stories from the Unusual Suspects
DE CACAOFABRIEK, Helmond, The Netherlands
September 2 - October 14, 2018
Opening reception: Sunday, September 2 at 3 pm
Curated by: Elise Tak (artist)
Featuring the artists and projects:
Cacao Marciano/Martian Chocolate, Mary Chang, Joe Gilmore,
Rick Krieger, The Madness of Art + Charlie Hewitt, Marvin Piqué,
Arlene Rush, Bishakh Som, Patricia Lee Stotter & Mark Pinto,
Hendrika Ter Elst, John Tomlinson, Osaretin Ugiagbe,
Loura van der Meule, Elise Tak
Tao Hua Tan, International Spring Artist Retreat and Painting Residence (May 25th 2018 - June 10th)
The First session of Tao Hu Tan Artist Spring Retreat and Painting Residence is organized by Anhui Tao Hua Tan Cultural Development Ltd. The residence will take
place at: “By The Peach Blossom Pool Arts and Holiday Riverside Resort”, Tao Hua Tan, Anhui Province, China; with the goal to foster the artistic and cultural
relationships, friendships and artistic understanding between China and the rest of the world.
A Tao Hua Tan Art Residency emphasizes the importance of meaningful and multi-layered cultural exchange and immersion into another culture while exploring the link
between the traditional and contemporary aspects. As decided by the organizers, about 8 artists from China and from different countries will be invited to participate. Artist are selected by the curators: Jeffrey Spalding, independent curator Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Gordan Novak owner of Novak Graphics Inc. printmaking studio and publisher from Admiral, Saskatchewan, Canada; and liu Jian, artists, art consultant and curator from Toronto Canada and Shanghai and Beijing, China.
The residence will take place in Xuancheng town, Jungian County in southern Anhui.
LATEST PUBLICATION: EXIT #68 - Street Photography (November 2017)
The urban space is intimately linked to the history of photography. The atmosphere of the streets, the strollers, the sound of the city appears and reappears in the images. The city as a stage, as an excuse, as an object, as a character. Street Photography as a genre in itself.
On this occasion we have made a selection of great names in the history of photography - classic and current - that have given their particular vision of the urban. From the first captures of modern cities, to the iconic moment between the forties and sixties - Walker Evans, Winogrand, Louis Faurer, Helen Levitt, among others - going through a current vision of what happens on the streets, hand in hand by Lorca DiCorcia, Beut Streuli or Lewis Baltz. A number on Street Photography without forgetting the humor, the neon, the unexpected and what will never change.
The street as a stage, Rosa Olivares.
Artistas: Robert Adams, Christopher Anderson, Eugène Atget, Lewis Baltz, Polly Braden, Henri Cartier- Bresson, Francesc Catalá- Roca, Joan Colom, Horacio Coppola, Gabriel Cualladó, Bruce Davidson, Raymond Depardon, Philip Lorca DiCorcia, Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, Harry Gruyaert, Jonathan Higbee, Jorquera, Sergio Larrain, Karine Laval, Helen Levitt, Fred Lyon, Andrea Mantovani, Fernando Maquieira, Boris Mikhailov, Lisette Model, Daido Moriyama, José Manuel Navia, Jason Nocito, Sylvia Plachy, Otto Snoek, Edward Steichen, Louis Stettner, Beat Streuli, Rafael Trapiello, Osaretin Ugiagbe, Walker Evans, Wim Wenders, Garry Winogrand, Adam Wiseman, Jan Yoors.
The camera on the street, Kerry Brougher.
Street Photography. The sound of the streets, Lola Garrido.
Productions of Art and Thought, S.L.
November / 2017
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RECENT ACQUISITION: Girl in White Lace (Museum of Fine Art Houston)
Bronx Documentary Center - Unbelonging (July 8 - August 13, 2017)
The photos of Nigerian-born photographer Osaretin Ugiagbe document the beauty and sorrows witnessed during a life split between the surging Bronx streets and the half-built flyovers of Lagos, Nigeria (population 20 million strong and growing). In 2002, the then 16-year-old Ugiagbe left Nigeria for the Bronx, joining his father who had already emigrated to the US. Fifteen years later, he maintains an identity firmly planted in both worlds. His artistic path has often been shaped by chance events and encounters.
He crafts his images through the inventive use of light, focusing on poignant and compelling themes of displacement and dislocation, and a surging, scrambling humanity looking for something better. Or sometimes just looking. The exhibited photos express Ugiagbe's individual path, but also reflect the larger framework of the struggle for cultural identity--unbelonging in the place left, not belonging at the point of arrival. A number of his paintings, which have strongly influenced (and been influenced by) his photographic work, will also be on display.
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