Every Tuesday afternoon we’re featuring the work of an artist to support him/her in cultivating a new audience, to give vision into his/her often unseen studio practice, and to build a diverse roster which participants in the contemporary arts conversation may reference. This week’s artist ‘From the Roster’ is Beñat Iglesias Lopez.
Benat Iglesias, a native of Spain, lives and works in New York. He approaches art through a variety of mediums, such as sculpture, painting, printmaking and photography. His artwork explores the nature of human relationships, the essence of self in society in our modern world. His focus is on creating artworks that allow the viewer to question our tendency toward jumping to conclusions, or our desire to categorize everything into definable boxes. Iglesias’s artworks are visually engaging and provocative. Through the intellectual and emotional connections viewers form with compelling works of art, he hopes to encourage a better, deeper understanding and appreciation of one’s own life and complex identity.
In 2013 Iglesias’s monumental sculpture The Bathers, was chosen to be displayed at the Riverside Park in NYC, where it is currently on display. He has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including 1st Prize, Self-Portrait Cover Competition by American Artist Magazine, Grand Prize at ACOPAL(America China Artist League) 2nd Annual Competition, The Ann & Brunno Luchessi Grant and the prestigious Xavier Gonzalez and Ethel Edwards Travel Grant. Mr. Iglesias was chosen as one of the 11 Artist to watch in 2011 by American Artist Magazine. His work has been exhibited at prestigious fine art institutions nationally and internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Tokyo, The World Art Museum in Beijing, Shanghai Art Museum, The Butler Institute of American Art Museum and the National Academy Museum of New York among others.
Iglesias: “The main focus of my work for the last 12 years has been the exploration of the human figure, both physical and psychological. By using the human figure I explore the nature of human relationships, the essence of self in society in our modern world. I approach this exploration through drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture.
Artist Statement from the “HEAD SERIES”
The “HEAD SERIES” (images below), an ongoing project, is a series of life size busts made of pigmented and painted plaster. These sculptures are portraits of people I know. Although I always start my work from direct observation, at a certain point the sculpture takes on a life of its own. As I work further with the piece, in its next iteration, I increasingly abstract the portrait with additional elements. For example, in some of the sculptures I have incorporated costume elements such as hats or helmets. These I find very interesting for two reasons: one, these elements can both conceal and reveal the features of my portraits, and secondly, these elements can have strong connotations, which I want the viewer to question. By decontextualizing these symbols I want to make the obvious questionable and provoke the viewer into reexamining their initial interpretations.
My focus is on creating sculptures that allow the viewer to question our tendency to jump to conclusions, or our desire to categorize everything into definable boxes. Ironically, from my point of view, I have brought no specific meaning to each of these pieces. They are visually engaging and provocative but their exact meaning is unresolved and requires further thought. In this way I strive to prompt the viewer an emotional response that will lead to a dialogue between the sculpture and the viewer. I want my sculptures to engage people in a thinking process, wondering and questioning what at first seemed “obvious”. It is a process deliberately directed to be open to each individual’s interpretation.
I feel it is not my responsibility to tell stories through my work but to present the necessary elements so people can build their own.
Excerpts from a recent interview with Line Magazine:
What is your medium of choice and why?
I enjoy painting, drawing, sculpting, printmaking and photography, but I do not have one specific medium that speaks to me more than the others. I like video installations too. So far that is something out of my league, but I hope to get to it someday. Different mediums offer a wider range of possibilities to express ideas, and some specific ideas may be better suited to one specific medium. I often feel that the ideas are what dictate the medium to be used. They all compliment each other, so I believe it’s good not to get intimidated by the fact that it may be unknown territory and to enjoy the exploration and possibilities each medium offers.
What or who is your inspiration?
My everyday life experiences are my source of inspiration. Everything around me affects my work one way or another. I react to what I see and in a conscious or unconscious way. I filter what I feel is important and use it in my work. Every place I have lived has been very important for my development as an artist and as a person. But overall, New York probably has been most influential in my artistic career. The amount of artwork you are exposed to in this city is incredible. When I moved to New York, the city offered me a perfect set up where I could focus without having any other distraction, and basically what I did was spend time at the League, museums and galleries. In this city I also met Fumiko, who makes my life more and more exciting every single day, so I guess there are a few things I should be grateful for to New York.
What keeps motivating you to make art?
Life in general is my motivation. Walking into a gallery and seeing a good show brings me a lot of joy and excitement; it makes me want to go back to my studio and work non-stop. At the same time, walking into a gallery and seeing a show that I dislike gives me a similar feeling. It may not bring me joy but it excites me and makes me want to go back to my studio and work, hoping to be able to offer something to the art world more worthwhile.
What life lessons has being an artist taught you?
That money does not open the door to happiness, but it opens the door to a nice studio space.
If money was not an issue, what is your dream project?
Money will always be an issue, no question about it. My Dream Project is to have a happy life close to the ones I love and be able to bring something good into the lives of others through my work.
More of Benat Iglesias Lopez’s work can be seen at his website. We are happy to say that Pat Tingchen Li has curated Mr. Iglesias’ work in an upcoming show in China in May of 2015. We’ll share details of that show with you as it is available.