Nicolas Lobo at Miami’s Nina Johnson

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Nicolas Lobo is not your typical artist using typical art materials. Known for works that employ grape-flavored cough syrup, swimming pools, and pirate radio, Lobo makes works that seamlessly blend consumer products and systems of production. From process to finished piece, his oeuvre is deeply layered, as fun to think about as it is to see. And yet, this “fun” aspect of his work is anchored to wildly cerebral considerations.

A new exhibition is currently up at the Little Haiti-based Nina JohnsonCash Me Out. It’s a continuation of Lobo’s interest in databases, interfaces, and twisting fine art processes into new beasts unto themselves. For this show he uses the ATM as a source of inspiration and creation. Finely crafted terra cotta pieces rest atop carbon fiber frames, which have the appearance of pizza boxes.

Nicolas Lobo

Nicolas Lobo, Blockchain (Peach Ring), 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Nina Johnson gallery.

Some of the irregularly-shaped terra cotta works are in the shape of discs, which look like bas relief pottery pizzas. They were imbued with various types of “mechanically produced food: onion rings, crinkle-cut French fries, M&Ms, breakfast cereal.” The “wads,” or more squarish terra cotta works, were physically pressed against different varieties of ATM machines, producing imprints that feel archaeological—because, in a way, they are exactly that.

The discs and wads are abstract, yet they communicate something very real about human existence. The pieces take the seemingly meaningless stuff of life (machines for spitting out money, the garbage we put in our bodies) and turn them into existential tokens, talismans of consumption.

nicolas lobo

Nicolas Lobo, Blockchain (Now and Later), 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Nina Johnson gallery.

Lobo’s far-ranging interests are connected by some inexplicable aura. It might be hard to see at first what ties these things together—fine art earthenware and candy and systems of currency—but the artist has an uncanny ability to illuminate the connective tissue that binds everyday life with the mostly invisible means of manufacturing, distribution, and information-storage. And not without a dollop of unflinching humor.

Nicolas Lobo: Cash Me Out
Now Through April 22
Nina Johnson
6315 NW 2nd Ave Miami, Florida, 33150

Rob Goyanes

Rob Goyanes

Rob Goyanes is a writer from Miami, Florida, now living in New York City. He has work forthcoming in the Paris Review Daily and Interview Mag.