Ospina, from there to here

By Maria Margarita García

While studying medicine, he created a heart attack in his family when he decided to enter the Faculty of Fine Arts where he went against what was being taught at the time. Nadín Ospina has created his own language. Now his works are exhibited at the Sao Paulo Biennial. In December he will join a group of artists to show his works and invent for a day a cultural center in a building under construction.

He was fascinated by molding plasticine, studying, walking, researching. Nadín Ospina came from a family in which none of them had the ability or predilection for art. When he left school he entered the Javeriana University to study medicine. However, in the first semesters he was disappointed. He felt a shock towards the middle-class lifestyle and the professions. He did not want to become a fat, contented gentleman. He believed that life offered more interesting things and thought that the profession of an artist was more appealing. And despite opposition from home, he changed careers and universities.

Now he reads philosophy, he is constantly questioning his position in the world. He has created his own style through objects, the human figure and animals that reflect his life. That is why his work is intimate.

Ospina’s color and flavor doesn’t fit in.

-Your work is futuristic and the Fine Arts faculty tends to be traditional. Did you express yourself easily in those early years?

-I had a lot of problems. I was about to retire. From the beginning I did installations and things that didn’t fit in with what I was doing there. I remember that a teacher required us to make still lifes with primary colors and instead of taking the painting I took a bag, filled it with colored seeds and when I got to class I threw it on the floor. The teacher didn’t understand what it was all about. Then came the Rabinovich Salon and the Atenas when I was still in college and that gave me a free hand to continue doing my thing.

-At that time you didn’t work with volumes. How was the process to take you to the three-dimensional?

-At the beginning I used geometry and a certain planimetry and then I began to look for figuration, to create works a little more three-dimensional to appropriate the space. Then I had a more technical development, I used papier machier and finally the resin that allowed me more three-dimensionality, and now I have tended to figuration. I think it is the opposite of what commonly happens.

-Why are you interested in animals?

-Animals are symbolic for me. Through them I look for a bit of identity. I start from feeling lost in a cosmopolitanism with so many influences, with so much information. I try to get away from that and think: Where am I? What am I doing?

-But how did you start working with this material?

-It allowed me flexibility and I found that it was resistant because I have always rejected marble or stone. Besides, it gave me the opportunity to do modeling. I became interested in the material and went to a site and found out how it was made. At the point of sale they told me how the chemicals were used and I tried it out. I made a lot of mistakes until I could handle it.

-When did you start painting on sculptural pieces?

-Always because I have considered myself a painter. When a work appears in my mind, a three-dimensional and color piece appears. I think that makes me a little different from a more conventional sculptor. The sculptor probably thinks in net volumes.

-Is the investigation of what lies behind the work only of everyday life?

-I read philosophy. I think I inform myself about what is happening on an artistic level. But my search is intuitive.  I think that in my works there is a social, ecological interest. Of course I don’t address them in a direct way. I don’t like to talk about violence directly, it seems to me that it doesn’t have an outlet. I like to suggest.

– Your works are currently exhibited at the Sao Paulo Biennial with those of Diego Mazuera and Ofelia Rodriguez. Which works did you send and to which series do they belong?

– There are five works. There are installations and sculptures. They are unique pieces that have the Amazonian theme in common. I think it was the right place to show them.

-You recently received a grant from Colcultura. What work did you do during the year?

-I had been thinking about the project of the sixty tapirs “Los Estrategas” for a long time, but such a big work was very difficult to carry out due to costs and time. So, I presented the project and I was favored.  It has allowed me to work with a certain tranquility during this year.

-You and some other artists will exhibit your works in an informal gallery. What are you looking for with the exhibition you will hold in December?

-It’s something like innovating again.

There are a number of friends that we have been working with alternative things like María Teresa Hincapié and José Alejandro Restrepo. We have each been working on our own and now we have been together and we thought of doing something. A person came up to lend us a building under construction where we do an exhibition for a day. We will do peformance. It won’t be conventional stuff. We will take advantage of the materials, earth, sand, bricks.

-You will show origami. How far does Japanese art go and how far does your creation go?

-Since I was in college I was afraid to work with ephemeral materials. Now I feel a bit conservative. I find what is happening delightful because it brings me back to fresh and experimental work. Although the work itself is very traditional, it corresponds to what I found in a Japanese book and the figure is just the way they make it. I’m not too worried about using something that someone else has already used.

-The “Deer” series you are working on now is different from what you usually do?

-Yes. There has been a change. I’ve gone back a bit to monochrome. I’ve left aside the chromatic exuberance. I’m into a new form of color expression.