Critics’ Picks

View of “Ignacio Uriarte,” 2009. From left: Licenciado I & II, 2007; Single Line Circle Labyrinths, 2008; Red Circle Drawings, 2008; and A4 Cycle in Four Whites, 2009.


Ignacio Uriarte

Bernauer Straße 71 - 72
January 9–February 22

As the threat of stultifying pay-the-rent jobs looms large for many now-struggling artists, Ignacio Uriarte’s exhibition “9 to 5” offers an inspiring jolt of hope that the muses might pay visits to cubicles as well as to studios. Uriarte began his professional life in business administration. In his artist statement, he expresses a desire to “stay in my own ‘petit-bourgeois’ reality in order to deal with [being an artist] from the inside, using the expertise acquired over the years.” For his first solo show in Germany, the Spanish-born and Berlin-based artist uses Biro pens, Microsoft Excel, Xerox machines, and other office standbys to create suggestive shapes and forms that express a Kafkaesque turmoil incubating within creative people under fluorescent office lighting. An installation comprising rolls of assorted paper, squeezed together in a massive brown box, looks surprisingly soft and inviting, even if each roll is dull and stiff on its own. Uriarte’s Single Line Circle Labyrinth, 2008, is a Piezo print that resembles a massive, mazelike, obsessive doodle created during countless conference calls. In an art-historical setting, Uriarte’s forms recall the Minimalist constructions of artists such as Sol LeWitt or Robert Ryman. But in the context of corporate life, they evoke Rorschach tests, distracted scribbles, or patterns with clear and strict use-values. In today’s economic environment, Uriarte’s forms are a declaration that a day job can support, even nourish, a truly visionary artist's mind, as well as underwrite his lifestyle.