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The trees of barbarism and twisted towers

Text by Daniel Escardó

English      Español


The sole idea of building sculptures in a huge scale, in a format that is greater than human, that endures the most extreme weather conditions and lasts through time is fascinating and common to most sculptors. However, this idea had never moved me much personally. I had even discarded it, maybe because it was clear to me how much work was involved in great scale projects.

In “Objectum” I had worked on perfecting my modelling for foundry, and small mechanical beings appeared, with mobile parts. As in previous stages, this was about a system of compatible parts to build with. A work of utmost patience, almost labourtherapy. During this stage, I moved the studio into the kitchen, used the microwave oven for the ceramics, and I worked while listening to music and cooking; a sort of technical minimalism.


However, in February 2005 a friend called from the US with a proposal to draft a five or six meter terrestrial sculpture. A small city in the state of Florida, had decided to improve itself with large sculptures, and was calling for projects. I began designing immediately and many interesting ideas came up, but the deadlines were too close and we couldn’t make it. By then my paintings had moved on considerably; drawings appeared on the canvasses that were clearly future materializations in sculpture, so I transferred those drawings onto my copybooks and opened a parallel research phase. The idea of building had grabbed me.


Sinuose 2009 Aluminum casted in soil foundry and stainless steel 32 x 32 x 102 inches



The first design that came up was a great obelisc, with a wind-powered head, a weather vane, a huge weather vane six meters high, marking the cardinal points and the wind direction; a Gothic piece with two arms, a tail and a lightning rod at the top.
During all of this first stage, I maintained a constructive dichotomy between the base and the head of the sculpture. I tried to build this piece, or at least to find out how to do it, exchanging ideas with engineers. Somehow I solved most of the technical and building problems; but the dimensions overwhelmed me, mainly because there was so little I could do on my own, and I was still used to resolving my works personally.


Deconstructa anodized aluminum casted in soil foundry polycarbonate and stainless steel 40 x 40 x 98 inches 2008





Torcionatta Anodized aluminum casted in soil foundry and stainless steel 22 x 22 x 110 Inches 2008










From this point onwards I did nothing but think, I took long walks on the beach and I thought; if the ideas were good, I walked faster. Sometimes I got stuck in the sand and knew that something would not work or that it would entail more time and endless complications. When I got home I drew, filling up notebook after notebook with ideas, possible materials, with possibilities within possibilities.



Finally, I chose the hard way. A unit made of small parts, a huge puzzle; or rather a series of huge puzzles - crystallization, fragmentation. I had seen this in Islamic art; kaleidoscopic multiplication, perfect geometry where a succession of parts erects the whole. But the minute modifications caused by moving one part onto the next one multiplied, and what was meant to be a straight line was now a helical curve. Nothing was what it was supposed to be.

The transfer of objects from a virtual plane to the “real” one (so to speak) has been constant in my work, i.e., generating something on the computer, materially building it, and then scanning it and re-entering into the machine. This way of working induces controlled errors, and the results are often unexpected. The assemblage of a model for the first time is a big event, as it is so difficult to foresee how it will behave.


Sisalia Blanca Acrylic aluminum and stainless steel 15 x 15 x 48 inches

After building more than ten models based on different ideas, deciding which one I was going to build first, was not at all easy. The transition from the models to a larger scale implies creating a system that will join and sustain the parts, and generate unity.
After much wondering, I decided on the twisted towers, a project that seemed more manageable, so I began this one first. One of the most pleasant surprises this work gave me was that once the setup finished I was able to correct the curves, using an unplanned variation of the securement systems. I used two wrenches and a ladder to force or soften the preestablished curves. And again, another unexpected and inexact element provided yet another shift in the project.

Many of the movements and musings that led me to all this ended up providing the elements to finalize it. It was very healthy to take a step back and observe the process. At a certain point I felt the need to take distance from what was built and ask myself what exactly happened here, particularly because of the many fortuitous elements that gave the impression of cold calculation.


In the past decade a great deal of computer and peripheral execution software was developed that allow very precise calculations and transfers to materials. This is a tremendous help for large format projects. However, precision here seemed to be a symbol of boredom. The plotter draws the same file many times and the circle is always the same. But what happens if we shake the plotter while it is drawing a perfect circle and we repeat this circle after circle? They are not perfect anymore. What happens if we scan these imperfect circles and we reintroduce them into the computer? What appears to be repetition is no longer, and what appears to be the same is now different. This is where tension arises from discrepancies, what should be straight is crooked, and what should be perfect is perfect no longer.

Esceo Acrylic aluminum and stainless steel 15 x 15 x 68 inches

I think both projects led me to the same issue: to the deterioration of things, to the inverted clock that marks birth in perfection, and then finds no other way but to become corrupted and deteriorated, maybe to reflect its surroundings. If things are straight, we should know what happens when we bend them, if the foundations are healthy, we should know what occurs when we make them diseased.

It is nevertheless complicated to turn around, and once we take one direction, we cannot turn back. Building, destroying and rebuilding seems to be the fake feeling of evolution that we carry with us. The idea that everything will be perfected in the future, that knowledge will save us, that we are on the road to becoming better beings is taking us at a great speed towards what does not look like a good destination. It may be otherwise, but only when the clock completes its cycle and it all begins once again.


Zigurat Acrylic aluminum and stainless steel 12 x 12 x 49 inches


Siclo Acrylic aluminum and stainless steel 22 x 22 x 72 inches



Muralo 2007 Acrylic aluminum and stainless steel 32 x18 x 6 inches

Droglet Acrylic aluminum and stainless steel 10 x 15 x 54 inches