Gabriel Rico and his inspiration that dances between heroes and graves

Gabriel Rico and his inspiration that dances between heroes and graves

The work of Gabriel Rico is the materialization of the philosophical questions that always invaded the Mexican artist, and that have to do with the human being in front of nature: with his capacity to create and destroy.

Gabriel Rico's workshop in the Morelos neighborhood, an industrial and popular area of Guadalajara, is characterized by order. It is what allows him to easily store and find the enormous amount of objects he works with. His neighbors are the carpenters, blacksmiths and painters with whom he collaborates on his projects: they have formed a community in the neighborhood. “Living in Guadalajara is a sociocultural statement: it seems ridiculous to me that you have to live in big capitals to be an artist with international projection,” said Rico.

In his workshop he has many finished pieces with round and oval shapes, worked with Huichol artisans. For Rico, the circular shape represents the human being's ability to create.Ram Martínez / Luis Álvarez.

Gabriel Rico's approach
Gabriel Rico has been described as a “post-surrealist and Arte Povera” sculptor and installation artist whose focus is on “the intersection of science and philosophy.” To Gabriel Rico (Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco, 1980) definitions do not seem distant, but he is not interested in fixing what he does within a current: “I see art as a possibility to do philosophy using matter,” he explained.

For the edition dedicated to art, AD México y Latinoamérica collaborated with Gabriel Rico to create a cover that includes augmented reality. Photography by Ram Martínez / Augmented reality by GMArt New Media.

His pieces are a game of balance between objects and materials of natural or manufactured origin that have been found, collected or that belong to his past. Branches, ceramics, neon lights, brass and taxidermy are some of the components of his sculptures and installations. “It creates environments that reveal the complexities of the current human condition,” wrote curator Julio César Morales (former curator of the ASU Art Museum in Arizona), who highlighted the humor and irony in this “juxtaposition of diverse forms of life.”

A radical change
His decision to incorporate taxidermy into his work changed him significantly, and he added contemplations to his process. “I witnessed the scope that the work obtained from including an animal in the composition. From that moment, I began to develop a sustainable discourse that addresses the problem between humans and nature.” For the artist, the tension that is generated between the stuffed animal and the objects with which it interacts is in the assumption that the encounter is really happening. As if what was once a being came back to life for those seconds in which the viewer takes a while to decode the scene. “It is a reflection on the meeting of two worlds, which makes me sad, because human beings are part of nature, only at some point in the last century they forgot it,” Rico said.

Recently, Gabriel traveled to Dallas for a residency at the brand new August Owen Foundation. Part of the program involved a talk at the Nasher Sculpture Center between the artist and Jed Morse, chief curator of the institution that has, since 2021, a piece by Rico in his .Ram Martínez / Luis Álvarez collection.
Art and wildlife
The origin of the stuffed animals he uses is an important part of his speech. Many of the skins have been stored in taxidermists' freezers: “forgotten and recovered skins, which otherwise would probably end up in the trash,” said Gabriel Rico.

He also works with Wildlife Conservation Management Units: “they are registered properties where animals are raised in order to offer a service to hunters or companies that look for their skins; They are farms that are dedicated to raising these animals consciously, in much better conditions than chicken, cow and pig farms.”

Rico is working on one of his skeletons (in materials such as ceramic and polyurethane foam), in which he embeds shells, crystals and beads, simulating the appearance of cancer in the bones. Ram Martínez / Luis Álvarez.
Commitment to conservation
In addition, he can incorporate a stuffed animal that he finds in a market or bazaar, trying to find out its origin. It is important for Gabriel Rico to make annual donations to various associations dedicated to the conservation (of the golden eagle and the jaguar in the jungle around Guadalajara, for example) and the reforestation of forests in Mexico. Without it, he feels his stance would not be complete.

“I believe in matter as a means to express my spirit,” concluded Gabriel Rico. “I like being part of the material world because through it I can perceive the spiritual world.”