Museum in Motion - Nicolas Uriburu


M HKA, Antwerp

16 September 2022 - 08 January 2023

Nicolás Uriburu

In the late 1960s, Nicolás Uriburu (1937−2016) started to question his own practice and its impact on society. Trained as an architect and celebrated as a painter, he expanded his canvas to include rivers and fountains, creating an awareness of the real. He began to look critically at societies’ relationships with nature, principally their urban waterways, and became best known for his use of a harmless microbiological colouring agent that turns an intense shade of green when released into bodies of water. The urgency of his practice was closely related to the fact that he grew up beside the Riachuelo River in Buenos Aires, still one of the ten most polluted places in the world. In total, Uriburu made more than twenty colourings worldwide over thirty years, starting in 1968 as an uninvited guest at the Venice Biennale, where he coloured the Canal Grande. In 1981, Uriburu collaborated with Joseph Beuys to colour the Rhine and the following year, they planted 7000 oaks in Kassel for Documenta 8. In the 1990s, Uriburu began collaborating with Greenpeace.

Uriburu carried out two colouring projects in Antwerp in the 1970s. In 1972, on the occasion of his show at Spectrum Gallery, he took on the fountain in front of the office building housing the Municipal Water Service, and in 1974 he coloured the Bonaparte Dock of Antwerp’s old harbour at the invitation of M HKA’s predecessor, the ICC (International Cultural Centre).

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