A sculptor with a bent for optical illusion has devised an incredible way to soften rock—or so it would seem to those who behold his work.
Appearing to defy the laws of physics, Spanish artist José Manuel Castro López carves hunks of quartz and granite—some small, some massive—into fluid, undulating forms: folded like fabric; squeezed like soft sofa cushions; pressed; compacted; drawn; wrinkled; twisted; or pinched.
Some of his works are finely polished to mimic a bead of water on stone; others are skillfully aged to defy the senses still further.
López, an incredibly prolific artist, takes each stone’s natural shape and texture into consideration before arriving at a final design. His works range from delicate pieces that fit in the palm of a hand to monumental works which appear to weigh several tons. “I adapt to its essence,” López, 61, explained to My Modern Met. “I take advantage of its qualities and I try to get the best out of it.”
Here are a few of López’s mind-bending stone works:
The artist removes all traces of the sculptor’s hand with textures and oxides. Yet, sympathetic to the rock’s natural form, López always preserves a portion of untouched texture in every sculpture. This juxtaposition makes the rock look as though it has changed its form naturally and spontaneously.
His ideas also come to him spontaneously.
“I am a trained stonemason and the fact of the hardness of the stone confronted me,” he explained, according to Daily Mail. “This thought may have caused the idea of softening the stones, even in an unconscious way, to leap into my brain.
“But having an idea is fine, the difficulty then is to develop it.”
Some of López’s sculptures employ the ruse of wrinkles and creases. Others defy our sense of texture in cheeky ways: appearing to slice through or even smear solid stone. He occasionally carves wood in a similar fashion. Some more intricate pieces incorporate metal rings or stitches, seeming to manipulate the material in mind-bending ways.
“My relationship with the stone is not only physical but also magical,” López told My Modern Met. “They manifest, they obey me, we understand each other.”
López studied sculpture at Escola de Canteiros in northwestern Spain from 1980 to 1985. Now living in the Galician city of A Coruña, the artist shares his logic-defying work on Facebook and Instagram.
Here are more sculptural works by López: