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Life-Like Animals Made Out of Bullet Shells On Show at UES Gallery

By Shaye Weaver | May 31, 2016 4:35pm
 The Federico Uribe exhibition features animals made out of bullet shells and faces made out of books and colored pencils.
Federico Uribe's World Includes Animals Made From Bullet Shells
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UPPER EAST SIDE —  In artist Federico Uribe's world, animals made from multi-colored bullet shells frolic and the sun sets on a mosaic made out of colored pencil shards.

Uribe's colorful and textured universe, on display at the Adelson Galleries on Fifth Ave., is meticulous. 

Small shards of colored pencil are neatly placed to form a figure or a landscape and appear like a painting the further away from it you get. The bullet shells Uribe uses vary in size, shape and color to mimic nature and wildlife.

"This deadly media [the bullet shells] is juxtaposed with cute and cuddly animals and people are not sure how to act," Adam Adelson said.

"It's the beginning of a conversation about that object, but it's not always his intention. It's about wanting people to look at objects in a different way."

A bushy-tailed red fox, a slinking leopard, a goose in flight and a turtle with a shell made from an antique military helmet are just some of the wildlife that will be on display, made almost entirely of bullet shells.

Uribe also uses ripped up pieces of books, colored pencils and other objects to form portraits, like a librarian he put together with book spines, or one titled "Piano Man" completely made of piano keys. 

"You're drawn in by the novelty of it — colored pencils and bullet shells — but then you're brought back to your original reaction that it's a life-size sculpture of an animal," Adelson said.

"It’s the skill in which he applies it to create these life-like animals. He also loves to play with the concept that trees are made out of books. We kill trees to make books and he kills books to make trees."

For the past two years, Adelson and his father Warren have represented Uribe, who lives in Miami.

They had first seen his work — a full-scale installation of a jungle made from shoes, shoe laces, plastic cutlery and other objects — at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers  four years ago.

They tracked him down in Miami and he showed them his studio.

"It was like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory," Adelson said.

"There was a giraffe made of colored pencils hanging over my head and bugs the size of cars made out of boat parts that glowed at night with LEDs."

Since then the Adelsons, who have a Boston gallery as well, have showed Uribe's work a handful of times and have set him up at art fairs across the globe.

The current exhibit at their gallery on Fifth Avenue was originally scheduled to end on June 11, but the Adelsons decided to extend the exhibit to coincide with an opening that Uribe is doing at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art on June 18.

There he will fill 2,000 square feet with a menagerie of his animals like a porcupine made out of hypodermic needles or a life-size horse made out of leather saddles.

Uribe grew up in Bogota, Columbia, and worked in New York and studied around the world until he moved to Miami in 2000.

"This guy is extremely prolific," Adelson said.

"The thing about his work is that when you look at it, you realize that’s not a simple task to do. It's not paint on canvas. This is meticulous work. I'm always falling in love with his work. He continues to surprise me."

The Federico Uribe exhibit will remain open through July. Adelson Galleries at 730 Fifth Ave. is open weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Federico Uribe
Federico Uribe

Federico Uribe