The paintings of Juan Urbina are the artist’s stage of juxtaposed dreams and subliminal realities. His work is both personal and intimate, and universal in its subject matter. A childhood fantasy - life in the circus - has become a permanent fixture in Urbina’s new body of work. Harlequins, jugglers, elephants, clowns, acrobats, and other fanciful characters come to play and perform on his canvas.
Born in Venezuela in 1955, Juan Urbina grew up in the small neighborhood of Petare in Caracas, which, to this day, retains a strong colonial influence. Petare is reminiscent of old San Juan in Puerto Rico. It is a place where the past never left, where the sunlight reflects unique color hues and aromas of old abound.
During the artist’s childhood, circuses from Mexico, Colombia and Moscow arrived in his neighborhood every year, bringing with them color, life, passion and adventure. But above all, these circuses brought fantasy to the daily lives of the people of Petare. To such simple and isolated souls, the circus represented a display of technological advances and exotic pleasures. The strong impression a large elephant then made on Urbina as a child has stayed with him and has left an indelible mark in his work.
Urbina’s recent work is influenced by his childhood memories and his ‘Circus Series’ is reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “magical realism”. Urbina’s circus images could very well be taking place in Macondo, the small town described in Garcia-Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude. In a world that blends ‘what is real’ with ‘what is surreal’, Juan Urbina has found his Macondo. He has found a place to call home and to relive the wonders of his childhood discoveries and the awe of his fantasies.
Urbina utilizes different elaborate mixed techniques. Sometimes, this includes golden cords and patina fragments with a monochrome approach or a chromatic thriftiness. By expertly mixing oil, acrylic, and gold powder, fantastic paintings of vivid colors are born from his canvases. With the same brush he paints with, he writes over a layer of fresh paint, phrases that come to his mind during the creative process.