Interview with sculptor Navarro Arteaga
He has been working in the art, sculpture and imagery fields over 35 years. This Spanish sculptor was born in Seville 54 years ago and from 10 years ago, he models and lives in his own studio in the Andalusian capital. He made the model for a marble religious figure for the Vatican, and also for the Funerary Monument to the Duchess of Alba (Seville), an important work in marble. In this interview with sculptor Jose Antonio Navarro Arteaga, the artist opens his world’s doors and tells what the Blanco Macael marble sculptures creation process has been like. Arteaga says that his work “helps to move the soul”.
Now, part of his essence will be in the eight Andalusian capitals; so far, just remaining Cadiz and Seville.
What would you say are his most outstanding works?
Probably, one of them is the marble image of Holy Mary the Ancient in the Vatican Gardens, which is a replica of the original wooden image of the Panama Patron, also made by me, some years before. This figure, in Carrara marble, was installed in the Vatican in the 500th anniversary of the Catholicism arrival to Latin America. Another one is the Funerary Monument to the Duchess of Alba (Seville), located in the Sanctuary of the Brotherhood of the Gypsies. Some others are: a sculpture of Cardinal Marcelo Espínola, located in the Basilica of the Great Power of Seville and an image of Holy Angela of the Cross, that has been in procession for more than 10 years in Corpus Christi of Seville (Easter). In addition, the Monument to Real Betis Balompié followers and also, the Lord of Hope on the Cedrón Bridge, and, the Holy Christ of the Purple of my Brotherhood.
What your first steps in the art world was like?
I opened a studio in Seville with some friends as an amateur, but more professionally, I started in the Juan Ventura studio, an image maker. During 5 years, I could learn everything to be a sculptor and open my own business.
What characterizes your works?
During my career, the positive critics I have heard about my work are that it spreads a serene force, it connects and also it helps to move the spectator’s soul.
It’s very difficult to name just one mentor, almost impossible, but I can say who was a genius in sculpture, painting and architecture: Michelangelo. And in Spain, one important sculptor was Mariano Benlliure, dedicated to civil and religious sculpture.
A profesional challenge.
There are a lot of challenges. We are working on an important one, opening the American market with the delivery of a huge bronze sculpture on the beginning of 2021. In addition, I have been thinking about an ambitious project, which is making a set of marble sculptures about my interpretations of the Sistine Chapel paintings.
Let’s talk about this work. What is the add value of being part of this project?
For me, participating in this project is one of the things that has most sentimentally filled myself. We’ve lived a very complex situation in those last months. This pandemic has made us feeling fear to lose our own life and our people’s one. In fact, this is what has happened with many people and families.
The health professionals have been there, struggling face to face against the virus. And the population, from the beginning, started to thank them clapping at 8 p.m. With this project we have the opportunity to make this last, to remember forever this way to say thank you that was born from the people.
I would like to say thank you as well to the Andalusian Marble Industry Association in Macael (Almería) and to its president, Jesús Posadas, who has trusted me for this project.
This is not the first time you make a sculpture to be carved in natural stone from the Macael marble region. What’s your opinion about the result obtained with this work and with the one called Funerary Monument to the Duchess of Alba (Seville), which was 2018 National Award in the Macael Awards event?
My first collaboration with the marble sector of Macael, concretely with the company Cuellar Arquitectura del Mármol, was with my sculpture for the Vatican gardens in 2014. Some years later, we collaborated again with the Funerary Monument in 2018, National Award, as you said. The fact that the most expert and recognized professionals in this field appreciated my work, was an honor for me. This new collaboration is now the total guarantee to be able to work with a first level professionals.
What the sculpture tribute’s creation process was like?
The process has been short. The concept was very clear so as I knew I had to represent two clapping hands I just had to shape it. However, what I knew from the beginning was that this tribute and monument dedicated to the Andalusian professionals, must has an A visual effect. Furthermore, I considered that its fingers should look at the sky, in memory all of those that lost their lives for this virus.
Are you working in some new project?
I am working on a marble head that will come to light very soon.
What are the advantages of a marble sculpture compared with other materials?
Firstly, the durability. Marble is the best material for a sculpture. The stone has always been considered the iceberg tip of all materials. Also, working with marble is a challenge for the artist, very hard and complex, but the beauty of a monochromatic piece is uncountable and the final result is awesome.
Finally, what would you say to the people this work is for?
That this tribute is a way to make the support that the society showed to the health professionals lasting. We lived two really hard months and this is our admiration message to those whose vocation is saving lives.
Read more about Navarro Arteaga’s Blanco Macael marble sculpture here.