Álvaro Urbano

Álvaro Urbano (1983, Madrid, Spain) lives and works in Berlin.

Álvaro Urbano’s work involves an archeology of desires and past intentions. By creating atmospheres that replicate specific spaces and architectural gestures, the artist explores the narratives that are embedded in these built bodies. Urbano borrows strategies from theater and filmmaking–such as lighting, sound and costumes–in order to explore new formats of immersiveness, his projects are often structured as scenes or sequenced chapters. The interweaving of different media is used to generate situations that approach liminal and oniric dimensions transforming the exhibition space into a vessel of phantasms and apparitions.

These staged realities are inhabited by vegetal and animal elements, only from a close distance these entities reveal themselves as intricate organic simulations. Functioning as active characters instead of passive props, they interact with the viewers within an established fictional setting, generating parallel stories derived from botanical sensitivities and the common ground of art history. Urbano uses the “whatif” as a narrative trigger for exploring the volitional underground that can be unearthed from these modernist and contemporary ruins, often verging into the hallucinatory realm.

The exercise of re-creating and re-framing architecture becomes an intimate exploration of the subjectivity of other artists and the social context in which these spaces were considered as functional, innovative or condemned to oblivion. Figures such as Federico García Lorca, Luis Barragán, Eileen Gray and Oscar Wilde appear in these stagings as elusive figures enriched with fantasy and speculation. Mimicry is used by Urbano as a platform in which illusion derives in humorous transformation; parody and homage bloom in synchrony.

Urbano has presented his work in exhibitions and projects at TEA Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, Tenerife, SP; Bergen Assembly, NO; Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, US; La Casa Encendida, Madrid, SP; Art Basel Statements, Basel, CH, with ChertLüdde; Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, DE; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, DE; Boghossian Foundation, Brussels, BE; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, DE; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, DE; CAB, Brussels, BE; Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow, RU; PAC, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan, IT; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, DE; among others.

Together with Petrit Halilaj (1986, Kostërrc, Kosovo), his partner and frequent artistic collaborator, Urbano received in 2014 the Villa Romana Fellowship. They attended The Artists and Architects-in-Residence at MAK, Los Angeles (2016/2017) and hold a joint professorship at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, FR. Urbano and Halilaj have presented their joint work at the 24th Sydney Biennial, AU; Ocean Space, Venice, IT; Bally Foundation, Lugano, CH; Frankfurter Kunstverein, DE; Palacio de Cristal, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, SP; Autostrada Biennale at the National Library, Prishtina, XK; the 17th Quadriennale di Roma, Rome, IT; the Biennale Gherdëina, in Ortisei, IT and S.A.L.T.S., Basel, CH.

Upcoming projects include a solo show at SculptureCenter, New York, US (2024) and a collaborative exhibition with Petrit Halilaj in MACBA, Barcelona, SP (2024). Álvaro Urbano studied Interior Architecture at the ETSAM in Madrid, and Fine Arts at the Institut für Raumexperimente, Universität der Künste in Berlin; he lives and works between Berlin and Paris.

Collections: Hamburger Bahnhof Collection, Berlin; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin; Artothek Zentral – und Landesbibliothek, Berlin; Collection Lafayette Anticipations – Fonds de dotation Famille Moulin; TEA Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, Tenerife; TBA21, Madrid; FRAC Bretagne – Fonds régional d’art contemporain; Colección Isabel y Agustín Coppel (CIAC); Colección Museo Jumex, Mexico City; Fonds régional d’art contemporain Bretagne, Rennes; FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims; Collegium/Adrastus Collection, Arévalo.

 

Education

2009 – 2012
Institut für Raumexperimente: Olafur Eliasson Class. Master Studies. Universität der Künste, Berlin

2002 – 2006
Architecture and Design. Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid

Grants and Residencies

2016 – 2017
MAK Residency, Los Angeles

2016
Villa Empain, Boghossian Foundation, Brussels

2014
Villa Romana Prize, Florence

2011
HANGAR Barcelona- Smart Project Space, Amsterdam

2010 – 2008
Propuestas, Fundacion Arte y Derecho, Spain

Solo Exhibitions

2024
Solo exhibition, SculptureCenter, New York (Upcoming) 

2023
Acto I: La Eterna Adolescencia, TEA Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, Santa Cruz de Tenerife
GRANADA GRANADA (Capítulo I), Travesía Cuatro Guadalajara, MX.
GRANADA GRANADA (Capítulo II), Travesía Cuatro CDMX, MX 

2021
The Great Ruins of Saturn, curated by José Esparza Chong Cuy, Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York
L’invitation au voyage, TRAVESÍA CUATRO, Madrid

2020
El Despertar, Curated by José Esparza Chong Cuy, La Casa Encendida, Madrid
Hands as Drawers, Special Projects Sector – ARCO, Madrid 

2019
ArtBasel Statements, with ChertLüdde, ArtBasel, Basel

2018
Hibernation with Linda Kuhn, Curated by Julia Heunemann and Nadia Pilchowski, Bärenzwinger, Berlin

2017
AltBau, ChertLüdde, Berlin
Almost Midnight, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin
Solo presentation, ART-O-RAMA, Marseilles
Assemble, Performance on the 25th Anniversary of the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn

2016
I, curated by Treti Galaxie, Mole Antonelliana, National Cinema Museum of Turin
Functions and Fictions & Be my Muse, Boghossian Foundation, Brussels (Performance Night)
Dead Men Tell No Tales, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (Performance Night)

2015
Deep Down, Porcino Gallery, Berlin
More than Real, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn (Performance Night)

2014
The Ghost and the Host, Pavillon Social Kunstverein, Lucca

2012
Utopias are for Birds, Outdoor exhibition, Chert, Berlin

2011
Expanding Univereses (An Ongoing Map), Kunstverein Arnsberg

Group Exhibitions

2024
Sydney Biennale (with Petrit Halilaj), Sydney
MACBA – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (with Petrit Halilaj), Barcelona, (Upcoming) 

2023
In the Garden, Curated by Magnolia de la Garza and Taiyana Pimentel, MARCO Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Monterrey
Divided Skies. Selections from the Stavros Efremidis Art Collection, Curated by Gregor Quack, Efremidis Collection in Seoul, Korea
My Demons My Angels, ChertLüdde, Berlin
Dans un pays lointain…, Frac Champagne Ardenne, Reims
Thus waves come in pairs, curated by Barbara Casavecchia, Ocean Space, Venice
¡Doblad mis amores!, curated by Chus Martínez Collegium, Arévalo
St Moritz Film Festival: Becoming Landscape, St Moritz, Switzerland

2022
La position de l’amour, Le Magasine, Grenoble
Wie geht es jetzt weiter? Zwölf Erzählungen aktueller Kunst aus Spanien / Y ahora ¿hacia dónde vamos? Doce historias del arte contemporáneo español / Where will we go from here? Twelve stories told by contemporary artists from Spain, curated by Ana Ara and Rosa Ferré, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt
Bergen Assembly 2022: Yasmine and the Seven Faces of the Heptahedron, Curated by Yasmine d’O, Bergen, Norway
Die Bluten von Berlin, ChertLüdde, Berlin

2021
K60, Wilhem Hallen, Berlin
Utopia Kulturforum, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
Jardín satélite, curated by Gilberto Gonzalez and Silvia Navarro, TEA Tenerife Espacio de las Artes
Dritte Britzenale, curated by Christoph Zwiener, Kleingartenanlage Morgentau, Berlin-Britz
Flowers in Art, Arken Museum, Copenhagen
Autostrada Biennale, curated by Övül Ö, Durmosoglu and Joanna Warsza, National Library, Phrishtina

2020
17th Rome Quadrennial, curated by Sarah Cosulich and Stefano Collicelli Cagol, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome
Walking on in Ice, XC.HuA Gallery, Berlin
Studio Berlin, A cooperation between Boros and Berghain, Berghain, Berlin
Biennale Gherdëina 7, curated by Adam Budak, Dolomites, Ortisei, South Tyrol, Italy

2019
THE GARDEN BRIDGE, curated by Kinderhook & Caracas, Brücke Museum, Berlin
I dreamed I was a house, Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg

2018
Tomber, Very project space, Berlin
Playground, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn
Welcome to the Jungle, Curated by Jasmina Merz and Anna Lena Seiser, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
what is going to happen is not “the future”, but what we are going to do”, Curated Section at ARCOmadrid, curated by Chus Martínez, Rosa Lleó and Elise Lammer, Madrid
Una vida doméstica – A Domestic Life, Curated by José Esparza Chong Cuy, Curated Sector at Salón Acme, Mexico City

2017
Alpina Huus, curated by Elise Lammer & Denis Pernet, performance festivals at Le Commun (Geneva) and Arsenic (Lausanne)
TOUCH BASE, Curated by Anna M. Szaflarski, Studio Flotti, Berlin
FESTIVAL OF FUTURE NOWS – 2nd Edition, Hamburger Bahnhof — Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
Friends of Birds, Curated by Jeanne Barral, DOC!, Paris
Notes on our equilibrium,  CAB, Curated by Eléonore de Sadeleer and Evelyn Simons, Brussels
Exhibition Fellows – Final Projects: Group XLII, MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles

2016
That Time, Cycle Music and Art Festival, Curated by Eva Wilson, Kópavogur, Iceland
Deep Inside, Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, curated by Nadim Samman, Moscow
PLAN B, NRW-Forum, Dusseldorf
Hybrid Modus, Skulptur Bredelar, Bredelar
Night Tales, Nuit Blanche, Cinéma des Beaux Arts, Monaco (Movie Screening)
In Space No One Can Hear you Laugh, curated by Clarissa Tempestini, Bonelli Gallery, Milan
Art & Nature. Walking with Senses, curated by BAU (Simone Mair, Lisa Mazza, Filipa Ramos), Merano, Italy

2015
SUPER SUPERSTUDIO, PAC-Pavilion of Contemporary Art, Co-curated by Andreas Angelidakis, Vittorio Pizzigoni and Valter Scelsi, Milan
V, Alexander Levi, Berlin
Florence Contemporary, Italian Embassy, Berlin
In the Land of the Blind the One Eyed Man Loses Sight, Dittrich Schlechtriem, Berlin
WLGTDWI (What’s Love Gotta Do With It), S.A.T.L.S., Basel
MOVIES IN MAY, Nosbaum Reding Projects, Luxembourg (Movie Screening)
Ärger im Paradise (Trouble in Paradise), curated by Rein Wolfs, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn
ALPINA HUUS > House of Deep Transformation in 11 Acts, Schinkel Pavillon, curated by Elise Lammer and Denis Pernet, Berlin

2014
FESTIVAL OF FUTURE NOWS, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
Open Studios, Villa Romana, Florence
Welcome show, Villa Romana, Florence

2013
La Duda Original, Plataforma Revolver, Lisboa
Carry On, curated by David Horvitz, Paris
Past Futures, Present, Futures, Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York

2012
G L A S A U G E (Olafur Eliasson class), Berlin
Rundgang ( Olafur Eliasson class), UdK, Berlin
Overseas, Kunstverein Arnsberg, Arnsberg

2011
PLAYING AMONG THE RUINS, MOT – Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo As part of the Institut für Raumexperimente
Do Not Disturb, Centro Cultural Galileo & Fundación Claves de Arte, Madrid
The-Grey-Sheep Project, O.Eliasson Studio’s Gallery, Berlin
Rundgang, Final Show, Institut für Raumexperimente. Olafur Eliasson class. UdK, Berlin
LA private view for 25, Proposals Superfront Gallery / Art and Architecture, Los Angeles
Without Destination, Reykjavik Art Museum

Public Art

2016
My Boy with Such Boots We May Hope to Travel Far, Merano, various locations in and around the city
Dead Men Tell No Tales, Kölnischer Kunstverein in garden, Cologne

2015
Osservatorio, Garden of Villa Romana, Florence
The Show the Ghost and the Host, Villa Romana, site specific installation in guest room, Florence

Curatorial Projects:

2012
PERFORMING POLITICS Symposium: Critical spatial practices in Art and Architecture. The World Is Not Fair – Die Grosse Weltausstellung, Institut für Raumexperimente.
SALT: WATER 117.6, HOST, Berlin
A Brunch with Wexler, HOST, Berlin
Welcome, HOST, Berlin

Selected Press

2023
“In Mexiko denkt Álvaro Urbano an die Liebe” by Elke Buhr, Monopol, Summer, 2023, p. 123
“Álvaro Urbano: “Me gusta jugar con las apariencias llevando la técnica al límite de la simulación”, by Mario Canal, El Grito, 2023, online.

2022
“A Grenoble, le Magasinreprend du service aprèsplus d’un an de fermeture” by Emmanuelle Jardonnet, on Le Monde, 1 December 2022, online.
“Adventurous comeback for Bergen Assembly” by Renate Synnes Handal, on Bergens Tidende, September 2022, online.
“Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano with Annette Frick: Die Blüten von Berlin”, on ArtReview, vol 74, no 5, Summer 2022
“Als wir Blüten sahen” by Brigitte Werneburg, Taz, 25 April 2022, online.
“Confetti am Boden” by Nicola Kuhn, 19 March 2022, Tagesspiegel, online.
“Der Gespräch der Blüten” by Ulrike Borowczyk, Berliner Morgenpost, 18 March 2022.
“Die Galerie ChertLüdde ist bei Deko Behrendt gezogen” by Dirk Krampit, B.Z., 18 March 2022, online.

2021
“Rome’s Quadriennale: An Act of Love for a Mutant World” by Mariacarla Molè on ArtReview, 16 February 2021, online.
2020
“Alvaro Urbano reflects on the past and future of abandoned architectural structures” on designboom, November 2020, online.
“A Haunting Installation Reexamines the Ideals of Spanish Modernist Architecture” by Hannah Feniak on Hyperallergic, 6 November 2020, online.
“Image Contributions, Alvaro Urbano, Monira AlQadiri, SHIMABUKU, Susanna Hofer, Vern Blosum, on Spike Art Magazine, #65, Autumn 2020,  p. 53.
“Álvaro Urbano, amanecer sin fecha” by Luisa Espino on El Cultural, 16 March 2020, online.
“Alvaro Urbano at La Casa Encendida” on Artviewer, 12 March 2020, online.

2019
“An Artist has Recreated Famous Lost Artworks for Art Basel–and They Will Disappear Again Before the Fair is Over” by Tim Schneider on Artnet, 12th June 2019, online.
“Alvaro Urbano begibt sich unter die Kunstfälscher und kopiert verlorene Werke”, on Monopol Special Issue Art Basel 2019, June 2019, p.22.

2018
“Truth//Alvaro Urbano’s ‘Altbau’ at ChertLüdde by Nat Marcus on Berlin Art Link, 16th January 2018, online.
“Tomber at Very/Berlin curated by Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld” on Daily Lazy, July 2018, online.
“Cyborgs and utopias: Arco looks to the future” by Anna Sansom on The Art Newspaper, 19 February 2018, online.

2017
“Five Shows to See in Berlin” by Penny Rafferty on Elephant, Magazine Issue 33, 4th December 2017, online.
“Opening: Alvaro Urbano at ChertLüdde”, Interview with Alvaro Urbano by Robert Schulte on Spike Magazine online, on occasion of the artist’s first solo exhibition “Altbau” at ChertLüdde, 24 November 2017 – 27 January 2018. Published on 24th November  2017, online.

2016
“(in)between the lines of narration with Alvaro Urbano” by Maria Martens Serrano, on Artdependence Magazine, Vol. 26 November 2016, online.
“Künstler, die uns aufgefallen sind: ALVARO URBANO”, on Monopol, February 2016, p.28.

2015
“Alvaro Urbano & Petrit Halilaj” by Matteo Mottin, on ATP Diary, 17th July 2019, online.

Catalogues – Publications

2023
“En El Jardín (In The Garden)” edited by Magnolia de la Garya, 2023. ISBN: 9788419539137.
“ACTO I: LA ETERNA ADOLESCENCIA”, exhibition catalogue published by TEA (Santa Cruz de Tenerife) & BOM DIA (Berlin).
“Álvaro Urbano & Petrit Halilaj”, colouring book published by École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris.
“Thus Waves Come in Pairs: Thinking with the mediterraneans”, edited by Barbara Casavecchia, published by Sternberg Press, London.
GRANADA GRANADA, artist’s book published by Travesía Cuatro, Guadalajara / Madrid / Mexico City.

2021
“Flowers in Art” by Christian Gether, Gry Hedin, Naja Rasmussen, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, Denmark, 2021. ISBN 978-87-78751-447

2020
“Studio Berlin Berghain” by Juliet Kothe, Dr. Klaus Lederer, Ed.: BOROS Foundation, gemeinnützig GmbH, DISTANZ Verlag, Berlin, 2020. ISBN 978-3-95476-369-6
Petrit at night Alvaro at night, “-a breath? a name?- the ways of worldmaking”, Biennale Gherdëina 7, by Franco Berardi et.Al., Institut Ladin Micurá de Rü, Italy, 2020, pp. 114-119. ISBN 978-88-8171-138-3

2019
Ever Since Night Falls, artist’s book, published by ChertLüdde, June 2019

2015
SUPER SUPERSTUDIO, exhibition catalogue, PAC-Pavilion of Contemporary Art, Milan
Ärger im Paradise, exhibition catalogue of the exhibition, Bundeskunsthalle

2014
The State of a Ghost While Hosted as a Guest, publication from the Villa Romana Fellows, Villa Romana Editions, published by Argo Books ISBN 978-3-942700-62-7
Kushtetuta # 2 About Mums & Dads, edited by Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano, Self-published zines
TRANSLATION ACTS > PERFORMING POLITICS, Concept by Ifrex, Edited by Ifrex and Fotini Kushtetuta, Published by KOSOVO 2.0, Edited by Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano
MAPPING EVERYTHING, Institut für Raumexperimente (Berlin) and Institut für Landschaftsarchitektur (ETH Zurich) Project Conception: Olafur Eliasson and Guther Vogt, Nicola Eiffler

2012
STUDIO MAGAZINE #2, an Architecture and Urbanism Publication

2010
Ottos impossible talks / Lets start to implement little errors Impossible topics/rescued futures, Otto Rössler with the Institut für Raumexperimente, edited by Julius von Bismarck, Jeremias Holliger, Laura McLardy, Mathias Sohr, Alvaro Urbano, Euan Williams, Graphic design and concept book by bureau-aeiou

2009
UNPLANNED: Research and Experiments at the Urban Scale, concept book by Superfront Graphic design by: Do not bend
Kønst magazine issue n.4 Erasing Darkness
Pidgin-Magazine issue n.6 (text by Jose Esparza)