NADÍN OSPINA. The persistence of desire
14 Sep - 21 Oct 2023
Nadín Ospina, in a text titled “Autorretratos sociales” [“Social Self-Portraits”] which was published in the catalog of El final del eclipse. El arte de América Latina en la transición al siglo XXI [The Final Eclipse. Latin American Art in the Transition to the 21st Century], highlighted that his work touches upon local questions without fully losing sight of global perspectives: “My work deals with cultural issues in my local surroundings, and with general themes in contemporary culture. Out here in Latin America, which stands on the brink of precariousness and archaism, we are also living in the age of the Internet and the mass media. But our outlook on the world of universal culture is particular of this place—it is not the same to think in terms of globalization from Zürich, Miami, or Paris, than from Bogota, the capital of a country stigmatized by the hypocrisy of the international community and its media as the most violent in the world, the champion on drug problems, kidnappings, sicariato, ruthless guerrillas, of the best forgers, and the most sought-after prostitutes.” Ospina describes his work as “social self-portraits” which reveal the acculturation and show the determining influence of a neocolonialism that he qualifies as commodifying.
Nadín Ospina recuperates the principles of Oswald de Andrade, who rallied in his Anthropophagic Manifesto against what he denominated “the importers of canned consciousness.” “His work,” writes José Jiménez, “allows us to appreciate the subtler forms of violence embedded in representation: the capacity to appropriate and overlap the heritage and the various cultural traditions through the power of the image and that of communication in this age of global culture.” Among his most lucid creations there is that appropriation of Disney’s image in the character of Mickey Mouse who, as Benjamin put it in his text from 1933, was the “dream of contemporary man.” Nadín Ospina displays a combination or hybridation which mixes cultural temporalities and traditions, with a critical form which takes stock in the (apparently) estranging or activating mechanism of parody, blending kitsch retrofuturism with the myths of Antiquity, monsters with, for instance, the Flemish engravings of Theodore de Bry in a ludic iconographic transmigration, in that fascinating operation of “creolization” which Bernard Marcadé praised. His gaze goes beyond the exotic, without ever seeking a bland abstract universality.
The exhibition La persistencia del deseo [The Persistence of Desire] by Nadín Ospina at the Galería Fernando Pradilla in Madrid (2023) is a response, as the artist himself highlights, to ecological concerns, and it was “triggered” by the appearance of wild animals (pumas, foxes, boars, or monkeys) in the ghost towns that became all major cities during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s as if, during the planetary catastrophe, a paradoxical image of hope had emerged, giving renovated proof that life can continue in a “world without us.”
Nadín Ospina tries to poetically imagine another world and for that purpose he picks up Dürer’s rhinoceros in 2013 as an emblem of that which can be represented even when it hasn’t been perceived. There’s an intense utopic élan in the animalistic figurations of Nadín Ospina, transformed into a kind of Noé of our disjointed times, when, after the slippage from tragedy to farce (let us recall Marx’s formula), what we are left with is an abyss without bottom. It is perhaps necessary to rethink our lives, trapped in the logic of dis-proportion, incapable of facing the Delphic oracles of “know thyself” and “nothing without measure.” Nadín Ospina’s “poetic action” is spurred by the desire to regenerate the world, activating libidinal energy, dismantling “phallocentric architectonic thinking,” critiquing, in a decolonial fashion, the impositional power of religion upon subjects in their ethnic diversity, searching for a truth that perhaps is a dream, much like that beautiful girl surrounding by dogs (Alicia (Alétheia), 2013) which addresses the viewer, and above all else, reminds us that art is nothing but an enigma which is waiting for us to understand what we are: fragile and desiring.