There is a lot of superb contemporary realism being made these days; this article by Allison Malafronte shines light on a gifted individual.
Spanish sculptor Efraïm Rodríguez (b. 1971) has lived in Barcelona for most of his life and earned a degree in fine art from the University of Barcelona in 1999. His works in wood are well-known in Spain and becoming increasingly popular elsewhere in Europe and the U.S. Using a unique, time-intensive approach to sculpt idiosyncratic portraits and figures that are both truthful and embellished, Rodríguez works with a variety of woods — including cedar, linden, hazelnut, beech, walnut, oak, and pine — for his assemblages of reality and imagination.
Taken as a whole, Rodríguez’s art runs the gamut from straightforward to perplexing. At first glance, several of his wooden children and female figures look like life-size collectible figurines, almost Hummel-like in their quaintness. Others are quizzical amalgamations of people, animals, and elements of nature in unconventional poses, clothing, and costumes. Still others are industrial-looking and installation-like, defying gravity with their wire armatures, as in the Ostrich series. Children are a common subject, as their playfulness and innocence remind Rodríguez of the aspects of human nature that adults tend to leave behind.
For “At Car,” the artist had a realization while staring at his sleeping nephew. “In this sculpture, my nephew is holding a toy car in his hand while sitting inside a car,” he explains. “The seat belt confines him to a very specific place, and we can imagine him dreaming of cars while strapped in. This is part of a series in which I explore how the materiality of the medium can ‘occupy’ or fill the subject, like minerals in the fossilization process. There should be no clear delineation or boundaries between the figure and its context.”
Growing up in an artistic family (both his father and grandfather painted), Rodríguez gravitated toward fine art, yet oil was not the medium with which he felt he could fully express his visions. He was always interested in sculpture, the human figure, space, and the meaning of materials. Now, whether Rodríguez uses wood taken directly from a fallen tree or from a piece of furniture, his purpose is always focused on the original “biography,” as he calls it, of that material.
Rodríguez has created several public works and monuments in spaces around Barcelona, and his sculptures are in private collections throughout Spain. A sought-after instructor, he recently released a clay-modeling portraiture course through Domestika and has been teaching sculpture at the University of Barcelona since 2005.
Connect with the artist: https://efraimrodriguez.net/