Rodríguez Caballero's Sculptures Rise In New York
Amid the crowds and paraphernalia that surrounds the contemporary Armory Show in New York City’s pier 94, a three-dimensional aluminum piece caught my eye. The sleek, sanded-down piece of metal stoically stood its ground at the Marlborough booth next to more conservative, figurative pieces with big names: Botero, Bravo, Estes. Who was responsible for transforming this piece of metal into a minimalist’s dream?
I quickly found out his name is David Rodríguez Caballero, the youngest painter represented by the globally renowned Marlborough gallery. It is said gallery owner Pierre Levét spotted Rodríguez in Spain and immediately signed him on.
“C’etait l’amour fou,” said the collector who bought the piece at the Armory Show. (English translation: It was crazy love.) In case you were wondering, it sold for $10,000, a great asking price for young collectors seeking to invest in an artist with an increasingly global résumé.
Pablo Valecilla, the Marlborough representative, believes part of Rodríguez’s success has to do with the universal appeal of his works.
“This an artwork that reaches an abundant public, from the most abstract of collectors to the most classical, because it meshes extremely well with other types of pieces,” he says, while giving a tour of the Spaniard’s studio in lower Manhattan. “It doesn’t cannibalize other art works, but doesn’t let itself be cannibalized either.”
In the middle of the tour, the typical Spanish beauty, María Galera, carefully looks on from a corner of the studio. Being the artist’s girlfriend, she had all the more reasons to be a fan of Rodríguez. But I was happy to discover her take on his work is that of a true companion, one who recognizes her lover’s touch, no matter the medium.
“The thing I like best is that — regardless of the material he’s working — you can always recognize David in the work,” she says. “If he’s working with vinyl, aluminum, enamel, you can always read him, and see in the gesture, the way he works the material that the work belongs to him.”
However, for me as an art connoisseur, the most interesting thing about David Rodríguez was how he describes his own pieces, which are always driven by the materials. To my astonishment, he calls his sculptures: virtual paint.
“My formation is entirely pictorial, as painting was my specialty in school. So, my three-dimensional work begins with a philosophy: to paint without paint,” he explains. “I realized the overall, the gesto don’t necessarily have to be done with paint, but can also be done sanding down a piece metal. I create the appearance of paint.”
I finally got it. That’s one of the reasons why his sculptures are so successful. Besides their aesthetic quality, they still speak about traditional concepts in art history and oil painting, but by inserting other types of materials.
In the exclusive video below, Caballero spoke to Société Perrier about why he chooses to live in New York City and what makes the city so exceptional.