Sculpture as a soulful extension

Thomas Jukes

“The sculptor who works with primitive matter creates, even without intending it, the sense of a new form. In that tension between form and information lies everything.”

Humankind has always had a deep spiritual connection to the making of art and the physical world around us. Martin Lagares sculpts from these base connections forming his pieces with raw emotion and feeling. He harks back to what attracted humankind to the art form in its early existence. 

Before we could write and form languages we embraced the visual arts to express ourselves and convey meaning in the world we experienced. The roots of man's sculptural heritage can be traced all the way back to pre-history and the Paleolithic or Stone Age. An ivory statue of a feline human is one of the oldest ever recorded, dating from approximately 30,000 BCE. Sculpture allowed man to form his thoughts, emotions, and beliefs into a solid form. Ages passed as humanity developed but sculpture has always been there, evolving alongside us, it has depicted gods, heroes, and rulers throughout. From the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the Saints and Kings of the Medieval world. 

Sculpture's early history is dominated by the depiction of fine anatomic detail meticulously carved from ancient stone. It was not until the 19th and early 20th century that artists began to experiment with a more impressionist nature of art. High accuracy and finely polished surfaces were replaced with rich texture and expression. The sculpture was becoming an expression of the creator where powerful emotions were brought through the medium to give sculptures immense depth and meaning.

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Martin Lagares is a Spanish born sculptor from the southwestern city of Huelva. Graduating with a degree in fine art from the University of Cuenca Lagares would enter the art world with the conception of art as more than simple expression, more as an entire language that is constantly evolving and growing. His works are focused around the mediums of clay, terracotta, resin, and bronze. Ancient and primal elements that fall well away from the pristine white marbles of the Baroque and Rococo periods. More reminiscent of the early impressionist sculptors like Rodin who had begun to explore the use of texture and mark-making within the sculpture. 

Lagares’s work is visceral and striking, the forms created feel more like they have been carved or out of the clay than sculpted. The artist works quickly but with a deep passion as he builds up the medium with his bare hands. This leads to pieces that are rough and often incomplete but are able to convey so much more emotion and a real sense of life from the subjects of his study. Gestures that border on violence can be seen in the way Lagares works but with each movement, you can tell the artist has a vision of the subject and the outcome of his work. These seemingly violent movements create a real depth to the finished pieces as they seem to portray the very muscles beneath the skin moving and animating the sculpture. 

Much like with Rodin’s work Lagares sculpts with great anatomical knowledge, the composition and proportions of his figures are indeed accurate to life. However, much like the great ‘Thinker’ by Rodin, there is a clear need to capture the nature of being human. That we are not perfect and smooth but are forged and melded by the life that we lead. Much like scars or wrinkles on our skin the style of Martin Lagares gives his sculptures a sense of true life. An existence playing out through the constant ebb and flow of time where the foundation of our experiences becomes written upon our skin. 

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Much of Martin Lagares’s sculptures are created as partial forms, faces which seem to be but fragments of their former selves or that the artist has simply run of clay. Others appear from solid slabs of material seeming to emerge from the very substance itself or being just about to be absorbed back into the whole. All Lagares’s work is striking but these have their own particular power. They exist as parts of a whole or the expression of moments captured in time. Faces that are only part remembered or those intimate flashes that become so vivid within the human mind. Far from feeling unfinished, these sculptures suggest a beauty within the incomplete and a constant struggle that many people feel of striving for the idea of a complete self. A comment that no one is truly finished or perfect but it is those imperfections that hold the very best essences of humanity. 

Like early man discovering the concept of form and identity within the clay of the earth, Martin Lagares is reaching deep within himself to capture and explore the primal spiritual essence that can be translated through sculpture. Exploring the nature of recreating the human form not from an anatomical or religious standpoint but one which challenges the conception of imperfection and of how form creates expression.

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Photographize granted permission to feature photos by Martin Lagares

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