Ex Libris: From the Library of Pedro Reyes

Nasher Sculpture Center
Jul 31, 2019 3:17PM

Pedro Reyes is a contemporary artist based in Mexico City.

Sculpture has always been about the history of sculpture. In sculpture, forms are concepts, and my library is a tool just as the hammer and chisel.

For the past five years, I’ve been buying monographs of sculptors to learn from them. Now it’s a big joy when I come across a volume of a lesser-known sculptor. For every sculptor, there are 100 painters. Because sculpture requires so much time and resources, it’s only natural that the opus of sculptors is smaller than other artists.

Coming out of a conceptual art practice, there was a lot of sculpture that I looked at with disdain at a certain moment in my life. Now, my appreciation for other periods has grown. One day, we realize that those guilty pleasures that started as ironic were sincere joys that we had to let in.


Figuring out the eyes on a sculpted portrait is a big deal. I like how Bernhard Heiliger solves it. This is a resource I plan to use in the future.


A lot of the books I buy were former library books. In Oscar Jespers I found another interesting way to solve the eyes. Which is, to make a very vague insinuation without much depth or detail.


This is a book of works by Lucio Fontana before he started to make his “spatial concepts.” He had a full body of work that no one remembers now, like this woman with a mask from 1940. Would you consider this a spatial concept?


I like the work of the Cuban sculptor Cardenas. His work is cartoon-like and afro-futurist. Just look at the title of this sculpture“Etre Lunaire.”


This title makes me smile. Visiting the Tate Britain recently, I spent some time enjoying the massive slab called Sun God and its versal Primeval Gods. Its dimensions are 2134 x 1980 x 355 mm. This was an attempt to do a 20th-century Stonehenge. This stone made a big impression on me.


Isn’t it curious that sculpture monographs used to feature photos of the sculptor’s hands?


See? Being a sculptor is fun. Not like those sad conceptualists who will remind us one more time about the draconian conditions of the self in the late capitalist anthropocene.


I love Zuñiga’s work, and I used to hate it. What I have realized is that sculptors from the nationalistic period were conducting a big decolonization enterprise. Before them, sculptors in Mexico were doing copies of the Parisian school (many have argued that Rodin is a dead end, but that’s a different argument). The generation of Zuñiga started to use indigenous women as models. In fact, it is more pleasurable to sculpt big bodies than skinny ones.


I would love to own a sculpture by Jose de Rivera. He is futuristic, lyrical, calligraphic, elegant, whimsical, daring, impossible, silken, pure chrome lust.


A confession. Most sculptors from modern times find a signature style. But before they arrive at it, they do a lot of great experiments. All those works are up for grabs, as very few people will be able to trace the source for such inspiration. And if you get caught, you can only hug them for being so scholarly.

Nasher Sculpture Center