Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Nadín Ospina studied Fine Arts at the Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano in the same city (1979-82). He participated in the XX Bienal Internacional de São Paulo in 1989, and held his first solo exhibition in 1991. Educated in the era of post-modernism, Ospina began to explore questions of authenticity, originality and authorship in the 1980s, understanding them in relation to the particular context of Colombia - where new icons of the American dream vie with neo-pre-Colombian trinkets produced for the tourist market.
In 1992 Ospina won the XXXIV National Salon of Colombian Artists with a multi-sensory installation entitled In Partibus Infidelium. The anecdotal motivation for this piece is that Ospina bought, in good faith, a Pre-Columbian ceramic that turned out to be a masterful forgery. Ospina created four further duplicates from this original fake, and set them within a faux-sacred environment, complete with sound and the (artificial) scent of incense.
Since the nineties Ospina has continued to develop this theme, transforming Disney characters and members of the infamous Simpson family into ritual objects. Ospina outsources the production of these works to several artisans who specialise in making works for both archaeological museums and the tourist trade. While always formally arresting in itself, Ospina's work also acts as incitement to debate the instability of identity, the authenticity of ancient culture versus the apparent falsity of the present, divisions between high and low art and between the skilled artisan and the comparatively unskilled contemporary artist.
Ospina was awarded a Guggenheim bursary in 1996 and he has had solo exhibitions in Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile and the Netherlands as well as Colombia. He has participated in collective shows in Brazil, Cuba, the USA and throughout Europe (the UK and Ireland included). While maintaining similar formal parameters his work develops subtly and according to context: for example in a 2002 exhibition at the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkune, Leiden ('The Ground and the Real') where his works were surreptitiously installed amongst the museum's other ethnographic collections. UECLAA holds two works by Ospina and his work is also included in collections in the USA, Germany, Australia and Venezuela.
10 February 2005