From fallen trees, planks, and old furniture, Efraïm Rodríguez carves vivid sculptures that evoke the imaginative and playful daydreams of childhood. The Barcelona-based artist highlights the texture of the organic material, creating life-sized figures donning garments of veneered wood or whose bodies mimic the toys they stack. Many depict toddlers or younger children in the midst of play, and even the older characters are infused with elements of sport and recreation, like “Anna” (shown below) who wears a dress studded with tees and holds a golf ball.
Although the precisely sculpted figures often are based on his nieces, nephews, and other family members, Rodríguez tells Colossal that themes of childhood only recently emerged. He explains:
The children appeared in my work almost from the beginning, but they were only a reference, a motive. The theme was not childhood. In the early works, they were self-aware children, representing adults in the form of children. The children were a good support to work emotions and question the viewer. In 2007, my sister had two children. I began to use them as a model in my sculptures. From here the theme of childhood was appearing. I began to represent beyond their forms their actions and attitudes.
Rodríguez was raised in an artistic family in which his father and grandfather were both painters. Despite being exposed to that medium, he shares that he’s always been drawn to representing the world in three-dimensions. “For me, sculpture is a reconstruction of the world. I always build my sculptures in real size the referent, the sculpture, and the spectator live in the same place, breath(ing) the same air,” he says.
Wood, in particular, has been conducive to the artist’s process, which begins with an image in his head rather than a two-dimensional sketch. The malleable material also brings its own history to the works, and Rodríguez chooses the specific type based on its technical and narrative qualities. “Wood has always a past, a biography. A piece of wood has been always something else before, furniture or whatever, at least a tree,” the artist says.