28 Aug 2021

just let it be one big history: nicolás uribe

American and Colómbian figurative painter, teacher, and Instagram and YouTube personality Nicolás Uribe, in a recent video performance of a painting of comic book bad guy the Joker:

I have to be honest with you guys, I love painting, and I’m completely attached to traditional painting history, but whenever I have the chance to just — not put that to the side, because I think that all of art, all of painting, all of comic books, all of illustration is just one big history, if you really think about it, if you let it be, it’s just one big thing and it’s an amazing place where you can just gather so much information, and you can collect so much knowledge and inspiration, that — whenever I feel that I can tap into the things that I loved when I was a little kid, and that are obviously things that have remained to be true — even though I’m not a comic book artist, even though I’m not an illustrator anymore . . . — when I can combine all the things that I love about the history that I have with these fantastical characters and with amazing visual storytelling and images and illustration: if I can combine all of that into doing paintings like this — oh, I adore this, I think it’s a blessing, I think these are the moments where this doesn’t feel like a job . . . .

(It is a job, feel like it or no. But that’s another conversation.)

It’s a pleasure to listen to Uribe dilate on the various subjects painting leads him to. Watch the whole thing, below, if you have time, or play from the timestamp I’ve set it to start at to hear just the bit transcribed above.

For a barrier-free immersion in what for a large (western) segment of today’s visually-literate media consumers stands as the most resonant chunk of that ‘one big history,’ Manchester UK cartoonist and YouTuber Pete Beard offers hours and hours of material confined, nominally, to the not very cleanly delineable category of illustration, but inevitably folding in all sorts of ‘fine’ and ‘design’ visual arts history as well along the way. As historiography his accounts often leave something to be desired individually, but that’s by no means to suggest that Beard fails in his mission to inform. Unless you’re already a period expert, merely encountering all these contemporaneous ‘golden age’ figures together, many of their once well-known names now long fallen out of currency, will have some intensifying effect on your feeling for the decades of Europe’s over-stretched, warring global dominance and high-industrial-age media-culture profusion. (Beard’s a good deal more relaxing than is Uribe, happily, to listen to at length.)

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