Cuban-born artist Alexandre Arrechea says, for him, size does matter.
For three months starting March 1, the prominent Park Avenue in New York City will be lined with more than its usual skyscrapers. For the past year, Arrechea has been working on 10 sculptures, approximately 20 feet in height, which embody iconic NY landmarks, including the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. His inaugural NYC public art exhibition, “No Limit,” will be available to all to admire from 53rd to 67th Streets.
“I wanted people to see my sculptures and immediately relate to my buildings,” says Arrechea about why he chose his stainless steel sculptures to be so large and weigh up to 12,000 pounds. “They should feel like they are looking at buildings from NY.”
In addition to its size, which is impossible to ignore, Arrechea says his exhibit is meant to create an open dialogue with the public — bringing to the forefront the new realities we face everyday as individuals and society — as we are always changing. He says he submitted the idea for his exhibit to The Fund for the Park Avenue Sculpture Committee almost three years ago, and about week after he submitted the proposal, it was accepted.
“I was really excited,” says Arrechea about being included in a list of distinguished artists to exhibit their work on the prestigious city avenue. “It’s an honor and it’s a very good opportunity, because my work has been dealing with architecture for so many years, and to have this dialogue with the city at this level…it’s going to be good in any way. It’s already been good.”
The internationally renowned artist was able to complete this project thanks to the monetary help of Magnan Metz Gallery in New York City and the help of a team of 20 artists helping him to complete the exhibit on time.
“It’s a project that demands a lot of money, effort and work to be accomplished,” says Arrechea, who is busy installing the last of the monuments which were made in a studio in Brooklyn, NY. “In Brooklyn, and Madrid, we will have smaller scale pieces which will be shown…As well as drawings and sketches of how I conceived the whole thing.”
He says the most important task for him was to choose the buildings he wanted to work with.
“I wanted to establish some sort of a link between architecture and elements of human nature,” says Arrechea. “In 2009, I did a project called ‘The Room of All’ — a small house which contracts and expands due to the economy. Like that, I use architecture [to portray] so many aspects of life.”
In “No Limit,” he says he mounts the Met Life and Citigroup buildings on spinning tops.
“People will be able to rotate them,” he says. “It invites people to interact with those works — making them move. I’m inviting people to make this city to dance — my metaphor — because this city can’t stop dancing. To mix all these different metaphors all together is New York. It shows how New York symbolically evolves…”
Arrechea says he knew since he was 9, and made his first drawing as a gift to his family, that he wanted to be an artist, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t evolve as well.
“In school, they give you the tools and teach you that art is beyond what is beautiful,” says the graduate of the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. “For me, I’ve always been searching for new methods of making art…I work with so many different mediums, and I am always looking for new answers — I’m always awake.”
Eventually, he says he plans on returning to Madrid to continue organizing a project, consisting of drawings and sculptures, in a gallery there.
“Hopefully my Park Avenue project will travel, because I think this idea of New York fits perfect in any city – that would be ideal,” says Arrechea. “This idea of a city that is constantly under transformation, because it is part of our nature. We are supposed to change…evolve…that’s what I want to bring to other cities.”