The beginnings as a ceramist
predestinations keep appearing. García worked as a sculptor for a while;
ceramics, as he says, was something that happened by chance:
G: In August of ’94 I had the
chance to work with some clay with a ceramist. The first thing that
occurred to me was to make a bull’s head, which I finished in more or less a
quarter of an hour. When he saw it, the man made a comment about how I had
done it so quickly; it took him all day. This made me enthusiastic and I
spent a month making heads out of clay. In Medellín I did the demonstration
that had been planned in Mi Casita, of don Alberto Uribe, an aficionado “de
He passed from the heads, which
he had already dominated, to entire bulls. During his shifts in the
veterinary clinic in Barranquilla there were times that he changed the off
hours, and a night when he couldn’t sleep, to entertain himself thinking
about the defenses of a “condecito”. Gabriel says: “I’m going to make the
body and the legs; I took a model, number 59 of the “Count of the Court”,
one of the ones that went to San Fermín, from the magazine Aplausos.
you began as a sculptor without a teacher?
G: The truth
is that I never went to the School of Fine Arts; it might have been
important, but fortunately I’ve been able to hire people that know about the
subject and that taught me how to make the molds and about the technique of
He had to
deal with the “cañazo” of exhibits. He thinks seriously about this; he gets
ovens and someone teaches him to make molds out of silicone plastic. And he
adds that this was the person that really got him started.
J: So was this
when you really got started?
G: From here
on I had to invest not only time, but materials and the equipment as well. I
had to make these ceramic figures and three months later I had my first
exhibit at the Hotel El Prado in Barranquilla, at the beginning of December.
“El maestro” Rincón was my “alternate godfather”.
J: Was this
start considered a success?
G: We only
invited 120 people and more than 300 came. The matador Rincón said that the
paper hadn’t only run out, but there was a resale.
J: With any artist,
especially when he is starting out, there tend to be critics.
course, and I have a story: Juan Gabriel “Aranguito” invited me to exhibit
some ceramics in the Inter in Cali. The “maestro” Puente, from Spain, came.
They told me that he said, in a pejorative way, that the exhibit “was
J: But he’s a
painter was his father; he’s a sculptor, the one that made the bull in the
plaza in Cali. And it was like a “puya” that makes bulls……gets used to
punishment; it’s better than flattery, which doesn’t make you get any
better. I got used to the “punishment” of the critics.
J: I understand that
at this time there was a show in the Country Club in Medellín.
G: Yes, the
manager, Arboleda Halaby, invited me. I also sold some things there. I
already had had the honor of my first piece sold going to a magistrate of
the supreme court. Then I went to the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena in ’95,
where the Spanish rancher Borja Domecq visited. He told me that he admired
me by saying this: “I see you as a future sculptor because of the feeling
that you put into it”.
J: In all kinds of
art, this feeling is important; in drama, painting, “toreo”; nothing should
G: Yes, he
admired the way I had captured the bulls’ movement; above all in the
rejoneo. He added that he admired my concept of making things seem natural.
He has said that the sculptor that never picks up a bullfighter’s cloak will
never have these notions about feeling the pleasure that is… I don’t know
how to describe it, about “cómo se embarca” a heifer and then you dominate
From acrylics to metal
a preamble to what we can call the period of metals, we have to first talk
about acrylics. As we said at the beginning, it is the only material
that can be called new in the “epidermis” of the art of sculpting. In search
of perfecting his technique, García passes through stages.
How did you begin with this style?
G: I took
advice from people that tried to find out how to make molds from these
things, going as far as talking to dentists. I saw that people really don’t
know much about this aspect of making molds in an artistic form; but
industries get whatever they need.
J: You have
mentioned dentists, who make true works of art with dental pieces; but keep
G: Well, I
found the person that showed me how to make molds with silicone rubber; we
made them with this material and also polyurethane, but they were very
expensive. Before I would spend in one “cursilón” five times more than what
they cost me now. This changed when I emptied the first bull molds in
silicone rubber into acrylics. I remember that I called the first one I made
like this Cesarino, because of the coincidence that in this precise moment
Rincón called me to confirm that he was coming to my first exhibit.
J: Explain the
process to us.
G: You model
the sculpture, then you make some silicone rubber molds with it with
“contratapas” made of fiberglass and some wedges so there isn’t any
retention; so the “contratapa” comes out well and the mold is conserved.
What happens? By making the sculpture that you take out of this, an empty
space remains that you fill with the acrylic. They can also be made with
resin, meque, etc.
J: Can you make
the acrylic with different colors?
G: You can
give it any color that you want; you can paint it with tar, which with
gasoline gives it a beautiful “patina”. Also with oil, but never with vinyl.
Of course the paint doesn’t have as nice a finish as with earth, rust or
From another melting style to his own,
the old method of lost wax.
that serve to cast the acrylic also work for melting metal. As an observer
of the process of the bull of the Macarena it occurs to me to ask the
artist, why did he move to the capital of Antioquia to work with melted
works of art?
G: Here in
Barranquilla I didn’t find anywhere that did the melting process to my
liking. As a coincidence, the paisa architect Eduardo Suescún came and he
said that he knew someone, Raquel Sierra from Medellín, and there we started
to cast sculptures in metal.
J: Was that the
workshop where they started La Cacerina?
although long before that they had made about 80 works.
J: So the move
from acrylic to bronze was rather fast?
G: Fast in
the sense that the only thing I had to worry about was that with these molds
you need to use lost wax.
J: I see that
the majority of the works are being made now with the system of lost wax.
G: A lot of
them, yes; but the truth is that there are various styles of melting.
J: Let’s go
through the steps so people can understand.
G: Well, it
depends on the size and form of the work. We’ll start with the small ones;
with the smooth parts, or bases of the bulls. For this the best system is
melting the bronze and casting it in sand. Here in Barranquilla you can get
some really good ones. Ones is “egg yolk sand”, which only requires adding
water and it copies perfectly. There’s another one that is special to the
coasts, and that is the sand bank with a mixture of ventonita. This is done
in such a way that the rubber is preserved and well-compacted to later cast
the bronze. Before this the insulator should already be put on, like
graphite, talcum, etc, which should be fireproof.