The Long Exposure Lens of “Artificial Paradise”

My dear friend and Venezuelan artist, Juan Esteban Usubillaga also known as Onecho, debuted his new series of paintings last night at madelife in Boulder, Colorado. The crowd was intimate and composed of all of our friends celebrating Juan’s work.

The show, “Artificial Paradise” featured around 20 works spread over two rooms. The focal room was completely black and the works had spotlights focusing in on them. This dark setting made the colorful and glowing pieces pop and created exceptional contrast. The show was all about exploring the duality of urban and seaside life in Venezuela and also the complex process of transferring felt energies to canvas. The paintings were a rich layering of acrylic and spray paint that seemed to both, chaotically and fluidly, glide across the canvas.

What impressed me the most about Juan’s work was the haze and glow they had. The lines of paint that streaked across looked like moving light captured by a long exposure photograph at night. It was amazing to see this very specific look captured by the artist. Eager to ask Juan questions I re-toured his work and discovered even more intricacies and his words made the show even more complex. Chemical compounds etched into the canvas turned out to be different neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serration. This information gave more depth and creativity to the painting, which were now alive with physical energy straight from Onecho’s head.

The atmosphere of the show was great and madelife was a wonderful host for the event. The eclectic shop which was new to me is filled with a range of works from local artists, modern and mid-century furniture and awash of unique fabrics, paintings, and other pieces. The event was also sponsored by Suerte Tequila and Sanitas Brewing. One of the founder of Suerte, Lance Sokol, is an acquaintance, and this is one badass Tequila company. I, myself, have never been a huge tequila fan but Suerte is incredibly smooth and has slight sweet notes that make it  delicious in cocktails. I sampled a little bit of a Sanitas Black iPA and it was also very good. The beer had a nice richness along with a distinct citrus flavor.

Check out madelife and “Artificial Paradise” on display in the gallery from June 14th-July. 14th.

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