In Giant Origami Sculptures, Artist Hacer Folds Steel Like Paper
Gerardo Hacer, better known simply as Hacer, creates large-scale origami works using powder-coated folded steel in place of paper, injecting a grand scale and dynamism into the iconic forms. “Spring,” a new show at San Francisco’s Scott Richards Contemporary Art displays the Los Angeles-based artist’s imaginative knack for translating his childhood dreams into inspiring works of public art.
Hacer, whose chosen pseudonym comes from Spanish, meaning “to make,” was trained as a fabricator and has expertise in structural welding and cabinetry. These skills have translated directly into his artmaking, and are especially visible in his lively and complex depictions of animals. Rabbit Running (2009) shows an agile rabbit in action. Its front legs are thrust downward with its back legs brought high, as if leaping acrobatically. Painted in a rich cerulean, the complicated shadows cast by the various planes give the monochrome figure dynamism, enhancing its sense of movement.
Hacer describes his childhood as an important part of his art. His family was riven by drugs and crime and he grew up mostly in foster homes, using origami as a form of escape and healing. “Like the dynamic, formative process hidden by my seemingly simple designs,” he explains, “my work’s simple existence aims to elicit a dynamic response about the viewer’s relationship to their formative process: childhood.” As such, certain images are important to him, and recur frequently. Pegasus (2009), a smaller version of his public artwork at the Los Angeles Trade–Technical College, is similarly imbued with wonder. Tilted backward and supported by its rear legs and tail, the mythical winged horse beats the air with its wings and hooves, in stunning motion.
Like other artists using folded planes to construct their sculptures, such as Aranda\Lasch, Jan Maarten Voskuil, or Blue and Joy, formal concerns are just as important as structural ones. In Bixby (2015), a pink elephant (a playful archetype of altered consciousness), raises his small trunk to the sky. His body is simplified into a few spare folds, with one leg transitioning into his ears, and a small, curled tail. All of his work requires this careful balance necessary to support the material. Such a challenge requires not only clever engineering, but also a smart visual style. In these, as is evident in the exhibition, Hacer soars
“Spring” is on view at Scott Richards Contemporary Art, San Francisco, Aug. 6-Aug. 29, 2015.