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Greif Alumni: Q&A Yurian Quintanas Nobel on the occasion of “The Via Combusta” exhibition


We periodically invite our alumni, artists we have featured in the past, to share their new work and projects with us. Yurian Quintanas Nobel was selected for our Photography Online Only Auction in collaboration with Grisebach Auction House. Quintanas Nobel’s practice makes use of everyday objects and mundane materials to establish a direct contact between creation and reality, rationality and imagination.

His works are currently part of “The Via Combusta”, the winning exhibition of the Curatorial Award for Photography and Moving Image at the Jimei x Arles 2023. The exhibition can currently be visited until April 21st at the Fotografiska Museum in Shanghai, and from May 8th until June 18th it will be at the Three Shadows Photography Art Center in Beijing.

Curated by Gan Yingying and Zhou Yichen, "The Via Combusta" features the works of 8 international artists: Alex Turner, Alice Wang, Gu Tao, Josef Kovac, Magali Duzant, Song Xi, Vivian Xu and Yurian Quintanasa Nobel himself. This exhibition gathers photographs, videos and texts exploring the relationship between technology and invisible forces through a journey across the diverse works of the aforementioned authors.

Quintanas Nobel is showing part of his work "Dream Moons", a project he’s been developing at home through the transposition of dreams into still life images. “The project unveils a strange world where nothing is stable, a place that becomes a labyrinth where one feels lost and confused. At the end I used my closest environment and the pretext of transforming a dream into images to talk about universal states of mind,” asserts the artists.

He reflects on the universality of his images, thus their versatility in being understood by different cultures regardless of the seemingly cryptic language adopted by the artist. “My images are already very open to subjectivity since I try to make my photographs speak about universal themes without specifying anything clearly,” he says. Especially now, when photography’s documentary role is blurred by technological tools iper-mimicking reality, the role of surreal facts turned into photography-based images turns into a prominent one. Surrealism has long inspired Quintanas Nobel, who sees in this movement a reference for the spontaneous creation of additional layers of reality referring to the physical context within he practices.

“In my opinion, art has to show you worlds that you have never seen, break your molds, show you impossible things”: a belief which turns his personal experiences into universals. In his highly visual prose part of the project “Dream Moons”, Quintanas Nobel often presents fragments of dreams through descriptive records which resemble artifacts of a sleep life he describes in precise detail. While his work lies somewhere between psychological study and conceptual art, the playful approach of his research places the photographs at the crossroads of symbolism and realism. A vintage phone floats in the house space, the house itself flies away amidst a mysterious forest: the Dutch artist Quintanas Nobel is masterful at capturing the wonder hidden in everyday life within one’s home, and all the possibilities of creating worlds from silent objects of common use.