UV print on Forex, adhesives, other materials. Machine cut and hand assembled, 100x135x20cm.
«Cactopus» is an important project insofar as it marks my very first time to embark on an art commission for a corporate client. The client asked me to create a medium-sized photographic relief sculpture to adorn a central wall in the entrance and bar area of his new restaurant Mextizo and serve as an eye-catcher in this independent zone. Located in Barcelona’s central Eixample district, the restaurant specializes in Mexican-Mediterranean fusion cuisine under the aegis of chef Adrián Marin.
I was entirely free to choose the artwork’s subject matter, as long as it matched the restaurant’s overall style and gastronomic concept. The only constraint applied to the commission concerned the shape of the work. The customer wished for a bubble shaped surface, that he particularly liked about one of my previous sculptures.
The restaurant design bears the signature of Barcelona-based architecture studio Capella García Arquitectura. The architects created a contemporary interior that shines with a refreshingly unpredictable personality. The cactus motif is ubiquitous and adds whimsy to the place.
Parodia Magnifica meets Octopus Vulgaris
However, my decision to use a cactus as the photographic sculpture’s primary ingredient was due to a different reason. In my view the bubble shaped surface the client wished for required a formally similar pictorial content. I immediately came up with the Rounded Ball or Balloon Cactus, Parodia Magnifica. Though native to Brasil and not even remotely Mexican, at least the species would live up to its scientific name within the context of the project. While it might seem like a bit of a cliché to think of cacti with respect to Mexico, its emblematic Opuntia or Nopal does not only grow extensively throughout the country, but also is a popular ingredient in the Mexican cuisine.
The Common Octopus or Octopus Vulgaris serves as the sculpture’s second ingredient. Even though it is a cosmopolitan, global species, this cephalopod is especially abundant and largely exploited in the Mediterranean Sea. Grilled octopus is one of my favorite traditional Mediterranean recipes.
This piece, as with all my photographic sculptures, uses photography to supply a layer of visual evidence for the ideas behind the work. Yet, the notion of photography as skin becomes particularly striking in this work, acquiring an almost literal presence. The juxtaposition of cactus spines and octopus-sucker tissue puts special emphasis on the skin’s physical texture and augments the artwork’s haptic appeal. Also, as contrasting colours, purple and green pair exceptionally well together.
As a result, the exotic blend of Mexican flora and Mediterranean fauna provides not only an enticing culinary experience but also a delightful visual one. «Cactopus» is just another prove that the exchange between cultures is always enriching. This mouth-watering appetizer gives a glimpse of the restaurant’s gastronomic concept right at the entrance and ensures a fresh, fun and welcoming appearance.