Transcending Time and Culture: Conversation with Sculptor, Diego Sánchez Barceló.

Diego Sánchez Barceló is a fascinating sculptor carving compelling stone faces from his beautiful workshop on the island of Mallorca. As rural as his practice may be though, he still has wifi, so we were able to catch him for an insightful interview as part of our TERMINO Conversations project :-)


We talked about his oscillating artistic practice, in and out of the virtual world, his obsession with faces, and his reverence for the timelessness of stone. The TERMINO design philosophy tends to differ a lot from Diego's process, so it was truly a valuable learning experience for us to consider these different approaches and perspectives. So thank you!



So I was first curious about the journey which led Diego to the work he does now.


"My background is Arts and Design, so I went more into the advertising world. I was more of a graphic designer. Then I got into motion graphics, that took me into the 3D virtual world, 3D modeling and stuff."


I was then interested to understand how this digital-centric practice eventually found its way to exploring stone.


"I started working with stone around eight years ago — but my graphic design and motion graphics practice is an ongoing thing. They're both tools, really. And as tools, I use them back and forth. Sometimes I have a commission for a stone piece but I start working on it in the digital world, modeling in 3D and then translating it into stone."



"What led me into stone is probably the dialogue between the ephemeral nature of working with 3D — A language that feels quite contemporary and it’s in constant transformation — and the complete opposite aspect you get  with stone — a material that has a strong sense of timelessness."


"At the beginning it was really just translating some of my 3D designs into stone, and that was very fun to see; something that's very perishable, that leaves the virtual world and becomes an immortal object, almost like an archaeological thing."


Why stone? I wondered.


"[Stone] has this property of a material that transcends throughout time and culture. And in Mallorca we have this really nice variety of stones, some are very hard and others are  very soft and nice to work with — you don't need crazy machinery to work with [it]... I spent half my career working with computers and really diving into these graphics and this virtual world, and so I like to step away from it. It's therapeutic, in a way."



For someone with such as diversely spanning practice, I wanted to know where he found his inspiration.


"[Inspiration] is really all over the place — it can completely come from wherever. My influences come from archaeology, history, architecture or art, but also internet culture and graffiti. I just have fun, you know?"


"[Archaeology] is a big influence in my practice, for sure. I think it's got to do with the transition of these arts and cultures throughout time. Sometimes there's a lot of questions on how they build this stuff with the tools they have at that moment. And I also just like the naivety of the approach they took to create all this stuff. All this kind of ritual architecture, you know? Really primitive structures, but you see the carvings and they are insane. They're really amazing."



How would you define your practice? I wondered.


"It's a tricky one to describe your own style. It's just having fun with my own imagination. I'd like to explore the limit of functional stuff, and of the art object and how that has a dialogue between itself. And I'd like to have a layer of humor around my work somehow, because I don't take myself too serious."


"I'm obsessed with all the primitivism aspects of art, and I love the dialogue between functionality and the art object. I'm not very academic. I've done some sculpture courses where you do clay molds and take measurements and all that. And that's fascinating, but I'm not quite interested in it. I'm more interested in the errors that happen when you work a little bit more free flowing." 


"Sometimes I have a bunch of references, like literally a moodboard, like how you would approach a design project. But sometimes I just start carving without knowing. I just start carving a face."



And this led us organically to something I was hoping to inquire about — Diego's exploration of faces.


"I would love to make some more bodies, but I always tend to go back to the face. I don't know why. I guess it's the most expressive aspect of our identity. Maybe there's something there. I like to work with concepts of beauty and ugly, and what's rough. And what's funny, or what's delicate. I'm obsessed also with all these African death masks."


I then asked how he wants people to feel when they experience his work.


"I've always liked people to touch sculptures. Because they have this feel aspect. And that's something I would like people to kind of explore in my work. Which is why it's sometimes difficult to sell, or to reach people with my stone work through screens and the internet, because the tangibility is a big part of it."



As a final question, I was curious to know what he's working on now, and what he's looking towards in the years to come.


"My own collection that covers a little of seating, dining, lighting. It could be stone but it could mix materials. A small staple collection that's it's own little vision for a living space; a new reinterpretation of everyday objects that ties up with the functionality of objects. It's that dialogue between the art object and the functional object, you know?"


Thank you to Diego for your insights. You can find his links below.


Instagram -- Website


Interview by Ewan Waddell.

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