A glimpse of the ethereal here as we focus on Los Angeles based artist Roberto Benavidez and his glorious Hieronymus Bosch inspired Piñatas.
A wondrous weave of both Mexican and Medieval European influences, It’s not often one stumbles across work as fabulously genre-bending.
Intrigued, I contacted Roberto to find out more…
You have a wonderfully enchanting style, can you give an insight into your background and route to becoming an artist/sculptor?
I grew up a closeted gay boy in rural South Texas. There wasn’t much available in terms of art education apart from the performing arts so that is the route I pursued initially. I had always been drawn to crafts like sewing, embroidery and collage but it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I began to entertain the idea of pursuing a career as a sculptor. It really coincided with my coming out fully as a gay man and embracing what my true passions were. Over time I’ve moved from clay to metal casting, to paper, mainly sticking to figurative forms.
I’d rank your Hieronymus Bosch Piñatas as some of freshest work I’ve seen for a long time, where did the initial idea spring from?
Thanks, that’s very kind of you to say. I’ve had this idea for some time now. I’ve always been a fan of Bosch. The idea of blending this traditional Mexican craft with Bosch’s imagery was quite exciting to me, something a bit outside the typical piñata imagery. There is also the context behind each being rooted in sin so I thought it to be the perfect pairing. I also felt like this bleeding of cultural artistic forms was in a way representative of me as mixed-race.
Obviously no need to reveal all, but can you possibly reveal some of the processes involved in rendering your creations, and an idea in the timescales involved?
I use traditional piñata making methods to create my piñata sculptures: a paper mache form covered in crepe paper fringe. Since everything is done by hand it takes many hours to create one piece. The 6 foot Bosch giraffe took a good week to sculpt and about 2 – 3 weeks of fringing. I work alone and can be quite obsessive, so over time I’ve come to where I place each individual piece of serrated fringe separately, which is a crazy thought but the results can be spectacular. Even the creation of the fringe alone is very time-consuming, sometimes combining multiple layers in many steps to achieve a desired color or texture – all before even applying to the paper mache form.
In addition to your 3d work your obviously equally accomplished as a 2d Artist, do you have a preference for one or the other or are they intrinsically linked?
I much prefer sculpting to 2-d work. It is something that I have learned comes quite naturally to me and I trust my instincts more in the 3-d form. Most 2-d projects I approach more as studies.
Is there a particular piece your particularly pleased with, and why so?
My last piece is always my favorite. It sometimes feels like my connection to a piece wanes the further time moves me away from the creation of it. I find I am always excited for the next piece – thankfully this does not carry over to my personal life. 😉
Do you work with any digital aids or are the processes entirely analogue?
Well, I am able to print very small details from The Garden of Earthly Delights because there is now a large file available online – does that count? I usually use printouts and comps of images to use as reference for most of my sculptural work. But there is no 3-d scaling work or anything like that.
Could you give us a clue to future projects you have lined up or wish to try?
It’s hard to say what project I’ll be working on next. I have many concepts in mind and will see what project pulls me.
Finally, do you have any upcoming Shows / Exhibitions coming up? (and if so where)
Not at this time but I hope to have news about that relatively soon?
Many Thanks, Roberto!
As a footnote to the feature and a testament to the supreme craftsmanship Roberto deploys, here are some of the painted creatures taken some of Hieronymus Bosch’s original nightmarish masterpiece ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’.