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Nacho Carbonell: From Caveman to Beachcomber

Mar 2, 2023

For our A/W 2022 issue, TLmag38: Origin, guest editor, Li Edelkoort, wrote about Nacho Carbonell’s exhibition at the newly opened Los Angeles outpost of Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery

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Text by Li Edelkoort

Since the beginning of his caveman career, when his sculptural pieces would invite people to hide from ambient fear, his interest in archaeology has grown even more prominent, proposing fragmented finds and materials that coagulate into magnificent auras that take away one’s breath. As if moving from the rudimentary Stone Age to the enlightened Bronze age, Nacho Carbonell takes his progression in stride as he combs the earth for even more unique materials to be amalgamated into organic shapes. The pandemic took him deep into himself, turned him inside out and brought him to the wild shores of his Spanish childhood where he would play with his grandfather, working with familiar colliding materials such as sand and sea. He rediscovered diving and observed himself drifting in the vast ocean, scanning surfaces from above, accidental geological expressions that inspired his new quest for matter submerged in memories. He has an intuitive gift for assembling high and low materials that bond to form instinctive and primitive beauty. The witch-crafted designs are loaded with sand, water, wood and even stones, and they speak volumes of animistic energies that create palpable reverberations, such as writing with mesh, sketching with driftwood and letting things rest to rust.

Fragmenting these pieces into chapters, craters and crevasses, he might be looking for another planet to explore. Imagining further stimulus for his interest in archaeology, scripting stories of the beginning of other cultures, progressing his dedication to topographical material research, which has all become part of his landscaping vision.

In these collected processes, albeit compacted, the matter becomes more transparent and the work seems to become less protective, as if the man is leaving his cave to discover the call of open plains and the palpable freedom of water, air and space. Elevating and levitating his work to new heights, the pieces seem to float, waiting to be called to heaven. Their rose-tinted meshed up materials give them the afterglow of a glorious day, the sun setting as the city starts to rest, illuminated by a glorious Carbonell chandelier.

All photographs courtesy of the Artist and Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery




Installation View, Nacho Carbonell, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Los Angeles, US, 2022
Installation View, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Los Angeles, 2022
Installation view including Pink Wooden Stick Buffet, 2022, wood structure, sand, Paverpol, wooden sticks, spray varnish finish, 81 x 266 x 53 cm and Broken Glass Rainbow, 2022, Broken Blown Glass Bubbles, metal, welded branch, stone base, silicone cable, light fittings, 96 x 90 x 39 cm
Interior of Dried Cabinets, 2022, metal body, sand, Paverpol, plaster, spray varnish finish, 173 x 133 x 40 cm
White Net, 2022, wood, jute, Paverpol, sand, threads, metal rods, spray varnish finish, 80 x 168 x 74 cm
Detail of Colorful Rainbow, 2022, wood, colored marmol sand, Paverpol, metal mesh, concrete, spray varnish finish, 79 x 184 x 79 cm
Detail of Stone Table Lamp, 2022, Metal welded branch and base, stone lamp shade and base, silicone cable, light fittings (detail), 85 x 75 x 64 cm
Detail of Contain Nature Cabinet, metal body, sand, Paverpol, wooden sticks, metal mesh, spray, varnish finish, 215 x 155 x 63 cm
Contain Nature Cabinet, installation view at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Los Angeles

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For TLmag38: Origins, Emanuele Quinz wrote about contemporary artists and designers who are using elements of the past to talk about issues of today.

Aliki van der Kruijs is a Dutch designer and researcher with a keen interest in the weather and geology, making a body of work, including textiles, ceramics and film, relational to time, place and landscape. This article originally appeared in our A/W 2022 issue: TLmag38: Origin.