Sabeena K


Pablo Garcia Lopez in Bushwick

Bushwick Open Studios wrapped up a while back and this year featured a lot of wild installations, fantastical sculptures, and a return to painting. While I was there, I was fortunate to stop in Pablo Garcia Lopez’s studio where I saw his work that mixed all of the three. A couple weeks later, I was back to sit down with him and talk about his practice and transformation into an artist.

Garcia Lopez did not begin professionally working as an artist until recently – his background is actually in neuroscience. He holds a PhD and still teaches classes. One of his publishes papers on Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who he considers the father of modern neuroscience, plays heavily into his artistic practice. Cajal went against the accepted comparison of the mind to a machine, and rather pursued the idea of comparing the mind to nature, specifically to plants. Cajal said, “The cerebral cortex is similar to a garden filled with innumerable trees, the pyramidal cells, that can multiply their brances thanks to an intelligent cultivation, sending their roots deeper and producing more exquisite flowers and fruits every day.” Writing in the 19th century, his words come into play much later in the silk sculptural installations by Garcia Lopez.


After discovering this I was immensely curious as to how exactly this idea manifests in the artist’s religiously charged works. He explained that his use of silk relates to the individual fibers of the brain – appearing fragile yet durable and each group of threads ultimately forming their own shape organically. He also has a unique process by which he uses a “secret liquid” to mold the silk to silicon casts of religious icons, and once they dry the silicon can be removed to reveal a silk sculpture that can stand on its own without crumbling.


Those Catholic figures immersed in his cloud-like shapes reference his Spanish background. He saw the divide the Catholic Church created, and the chaos that ensued in Spain. It has a painful but important place in his oeuvre. Furthermore, he grew up with a religious father and a scientific mother, thereby underscoring the intersection of science and faith in his work. Yet he adheres strongly to the occult, meaning a belief in that which we cannot see, but can feel.


Garcia Lopez’s works are tactile and dramatic, yet not overbearing given their subject matter. He also touches on art’s search for spirituality in the midst of dogmatic modernistic principles. By attempting to make a statement outside of rigid rules and the dense, intimidating history of art, his work contains a level of the relatable both in process and in meaning. Garcia Lopez perpetuates this generation’s attraction to visual objects that instill an emotional response, while also imbuing his work with our desire to understand both ourselves and our shared histories, and forces outside our realm of understanding.


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