Nico Nubiola‘s creatures are idle of necessity. The horizontal or curled up position is its natural state. The sheets adhere to their skin, seem to suffer a perpetual hangover. Sometimes we see them wandering around as lifeless bodies next to a roadside supermarket. Mass tourism is not good either for them, they end up devouring each other.
Degraded substitutes of urban and leisure spaces only can locate subjects that are degraded in the same way: the mutilated bodies of Camping Caníbal (2011) translate the brutalization of a bulimic society in a humorous tone; in Parking gratis (2013), an exhausted girl drain the last drops of a beer can while another adopts a gleaner gesture as if she wanted to glean the dusty asphalt. Scratching private parts or gazing at one’s navel complete the repertoire of epic gestures.
However, excuse the paradox, in their dehumanization lies their humanity. The curled individual who gives us his back showing, in his nakedness, tan lines left by his worker t-shirt, moves us deeply.
Catre (2017), which is now exhibited at Berga’s Konvent, introduces us into the intimacy of a private home, although for Nico the bed is a metaphor for the polluted sea, between whose waves of flannel the sleepers float, ignoring the surrounding detritus: crushed toothpaste, remains of chips, gag-ends… Although it is not clear that they manage to escape from it; their contortions and restless movements betray them, their doped consciences do not rest swayed by the ebb and flow of this amniotic limbo that is birth and death. The ties do not allude to erotic games but to some kind of self-inflicted paralysis, and amputations are here synonymous with abulia.
Nico Nubiola transforms wood carving into drawings projected in space. The reliefs and sculptural murals are volumetric foreshortenings, they are robust but flexible organisms. He imprints to the wood a ductile chiseled, rounded shapes alien to the more hieratic tradition of sculpture. Although he neither seeks to be realistic, but rather is affiliated with some kind of underground figuration that only he practices.
His characters, of anti-canonical proportions and with a primitive overtone, seem to have escaped from a comic book vignette to infiltrate into an Andrea Mantegna’s fresco, that Renaissance Italian painter who with his skillful mastery of perspective applied to anatomy transformed painting into sculpture.
In this synthesis of languages and procedures, with an attitude that is both irreverent and classic, existential and sarcastic at the same time, Nico approaches us to such philosophical and banal subjects. Themes such as the evidence that happiness escapes any idea of progress, that knowing how to live (savoir vivre) is perhaps the only science (or art, according to Socrates) that moves forward blindly, that leisure (“schole”, as called by the Greeks) has been moving away (to no longer return) from its etymological origin linked to those periods of physical rest but of fruitful spiritual and contemplative exercise.
Whereas it is clear that according to this meaning, leisure was reserved for an elite and now it is a universal right (or better, a duty), although provided that its meaning denigrated in vital indolence, mental onanism, tribal cannibalism …, that is to say, in a society consumed by consumption and boredom.
Catre, Nico Nubiola
in Konvent de Berga