Leonardo Ureña

Costa Rica, b.1984

Lives and works in San José

Leonardo Ureña, blending his graphic design background with photography, challenges the prevailing selfie culture with a reflective approach that prioritises capturing spaces and emotions for a more mindful photography experience. Drawing from various artistic inspirations, he manipulates light and compositions like a painter, emphasising atmosphere and mood over specific subjects, in both natural landscapes and urban settings.

When documenting Costa Rica’s landscapes, Ureña captures beaches, skies, and wildlife, focusing on intricate details to render them abstract and offering a fresh perspective beyond traditional representations of colour and texture.

Extending his lens beyond Costa Rica’s natural world, Ureña has created a series focusing on rooftops in the country’s capital city, San José. The rooftop series portrays the rapid and haphazard urban growth experienced in San José, highlighting the chaotic environment of city-living. Ureña extends his lens beyond Costa Rica in his “Squares within squares” series that features a series of collages inspired by his practice of editing and photographing urban spaces. Capturing the energy of New York, Mexico City and San José, Ureña overlays multiple images, contrasting different contexts and exploring the possibilities of photography.

Ureña’s storytelling transcends surface impressions, exposing the essence of the places he explores. Combining graphic design principles with acute observation, his work resonates with the evolving spirit of each location.

Portrait of Costa Rican photographer Leonardo Ureña.

Leonardo Ureña outside of his studio, 2024. (Photography by Julio Sequeira)

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