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Interview: Ruben Ubiera

[ 5 February 2013 | Print This Post ]
5 February 2013

Unshredded grabs a few minutes with Ruben Ubiera. A Dominican born, South Florida based urban artist.

How would you describe your art?

I would describe my art as “Postgraffism,” which in itself is an evolution of Graffiti – a marriage of comic book art, graphics, modernism and “youth-driven-angst” all rolled into a neat package that can be presented into the gallery realm, yet have all the attitude of the urban art which has been steadily developing all over the world.

Can you share some highlights of your journey as an artist please?

There have been many that I can remember. Usually the best are spent amongst fellow artist while painting the most mundane of subjects, but just this past January I was involved with the YOUNG AT ART MUSEUM in Davie Florida, which was recently revamped and renovated, and had an amazing time. My art was part of a very unique show, surrounded by artists that I have admired for a long time along with some of my old Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale faculty friends. For me, it was a full circle. It made me feel like a lot of my work in the past years has not been in vain. Pieces were auctioned and sold to help a great cause. I had an incredible Art Basel Miami Beach 2012. I was part of the Miami Project Art Fair, which was phenomenal. It gave me something I yearn for in art: the element of surprise. Lately I have been finding my pace though. Trying to pitch a lot of projects early in the year in order to grab the bull by the horns, if you can catch my drift.

How do you manage to juggle both street art and gallery work and be successful in both arenas?

By doing. By relying on a routine rather than a “fiery moment of creativity”. By staying busy. By giving a lot of myself. I like to paint murals and they help a lot. They keep you fresh in the public eye and allow you to advertise your work in unusual ways. I believe that as long as the subject in the murals keep relating to the viewer and vice-versa I develop artwork that people identify with. I want to create a visual language that they can get accustomed to, learn from, follow and understand. I believe that as long as the future young generations follow your work, you’ll always have a future. I try to inspire, aim to inspire. I also try to constantly listen to my peers. Even when they joke. After all, a lot of truth is said in jest. As far as the gallery-work goes, it is truly inspired by what I see on the streets. Not just the styles, directions, but the energy of what’s around. I like to tap into the unseen for this, and try to bring it to the limelight. To give it a stage. Lately I have been working on better finish on my pieces. Some of my work had been rushed. Which is cool in a way, since it relates to the speed of the street art, but I like to conceptualize and plan a lot before I work, then I work very fast to finish the piece. Growth has allowed me to allocate more time to the second stage of my process. Having people that care about your directions and support your work is always helpful. Thanks Sloan, Mike, EXHIBIT 101!!!

You incorporate found objects such as wood, newspapers and old skateboards. Can you elaborate on why you use objects and make them part of your art?

Yes. I do incorporate all sort of objects and re-claimed wood found on the streets. It is after all our environment. I try to get objects that are unusual, items you rarely see, work with them and assemble a balanced composition with them until something starts to take shape. I find that people relate to these items, which make an initial connection, but then, I change their perspective by creating something completely different and unexpected on top of each ensemble. It has become a true definition of “one ugly item by itself, it’s just ugly – one hundred ugly items, organized and systematically planned, become beautiful.”

How has your art changed over the years and where do you see it going?

I don’t know if it has changed that much as it has matured. My symbol isms are still there, just more fluid. My hidden messages, graphic work, photography, illustration, graffiti… it’s all there. Just different. I have found a way to interpret all my ideas. Not a formula but more like a visual language that I can grow upon, which is what I am planning on doing. I see my work being more interactive. Bigger. Bolder. Something that only happens with time and the right projects.

You are from the Dominican Republic. How does your heritage inform your art?

In almost every way. First off: color. My island has a lot of color and folklore. I try using my folklore to focus on my heritage, and hide it within my work. I don’t like to scream my origin, but if someone happens to see a symbol or a Dominican item like the “Limping Devil,” guira or drums, then great! If not, no big deal. But the reality is that a lot of ideas I have, have been brewing ever since I was a child in that small island in the Caribbean. I just now posses the tools to do it. My nationality does not dictate my art, but it shapes it.

What is happening in the Miami art scene?

The scene is strong. There’s always something to do or see. Art Basel Miami Beach just passed, coming with all it’s blue chip art, the who’s who in the art world and leaving a lot of craziness behind. The good kind of craziness to me, since I am an artist that just happens to be in the right place at the right time. It is very inspiring, but I must say that South Florida is more than Basel. There are artists that inspire me on an everyday basis. Their tenacity. I follow more graffiti writers than one man should and hardly go to shows, even though I get invited to a ton of them, since I am always involved into something else, so I never get to truly enjoy it. I like what’s happening with Wynwood and how artist are moving out to the surrounding areas, extending the art influx organically, the way it was meant to be. Right now, this is what is moving my scene.

You are part of the upcoming group show “Futurespective.” What can you already tell us about the show and your work in it?

I think it’s something very different than what people are used to see. I know a lot of the artists in the show and have worked with some in the past. Most of them are locals, all talented. I believe people will be arrested by the element of surprise behind every corner.

Do you have any other news you would like to share with us?

Yes. Stay in tune. It’s early in the year, but I am working on a series of murals with the help of very important, established art entities, which will help promote local artists and places and add some change and value to our scene. It’s a work in progress, but it’s progressing fast. I find that projects that help everyone often do that

– Words by Heike Dempster


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