“There is always a vertical stress in my works”, he reflects, “all these vertical works of mine, all those points, are nothing but invocations, a questioning, a going forth to see the stars, to hear them take part in our lives. Like a prayer, an invocation to the infinite” (Pablo Atchugarry cited in: Till-Holger Borchert, Pablo Atchugarry: A Journey between Matter and Light, Oostkamp 2006, pp.128-129). Reminiscent of shards of ice, of interweaving vines, of shattered glass, of unforged metal, Untitled speaks profoundly to the natural world’s abundance of organically abstracted forms. Untitled, with all its latent potential, feels as if it is growing in front of the viewer. This sense of growth, of a form that almost escapes the grasps of its medium, lies at the very heart of Atchugarry’s artistic quest.
There is muscularity to Atchugarry’s work, part born out of the intense physical relationship he has with his sculptures, part due to his overriding fascination with the work of Michelangelo. Much like the Florentine titan, Atchugarry has developed the unique ability to marry a sense of weight and presence with the demands of highly elegant and intertwined compositions – as so often seen in the work of Michelangelo. It is in works such as Michelangelo’s Battle of Centaurs – itself a riot of contrapposto – that Atchugarry was first inspired to develop his complex interweaved forms. A master of direct carving, Atchugarry for all his modernist sensibilities forms part of a school of sculpture whose roots lie heavily in a tradition that stretches back to Michelangelo.
It is of little surprise then that this master of marble found his way from his upbringing in Uruguay to the great quarries of Carrara in Italy, where he settled and produced his first sculpture in 1979. Speaking of the material, he romantically sums it up as “the epitome of the classical”. He goes on to describe how “by frequenting the marble quarries of Carrara, I learned to love marble, to listen to its voice it told me its secrets, I felt the presence of the giants who have loved marble, men such as Michelangelo and Brancusi.” (Pablo Atchugarry cited in: Jonathan Goodman, ‘Pablo Atchugarry: Heroic Activities’, Pablo Atchugarry: Heroic Activities, New York 2011, p.14).
In an era overcome by sculpture prefabricated by the studio hand, Atchugarry is a rare example of a sculptor forging a different path - one that relies on a profoundly physical relationship with stone and the slow perfection of one’s craft.
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