Sebastian Cifuentes : Pop Synergie

From 18 March to 16 April 2014, Galerie BE-ESPACE goes « urban pop art » with Colombian artist Sebastian Cifuentes. The exhibition features a dozen 3D works exploring a whole range of myths, from classical Greek and Roman themes to modern super-heroes. Inspired by both real and imaginary subjects, his work takes the form of paintings or ‘graphic novel’-style drawings. The collective unconscious will easily recognise its most emblematic figures here. Geometric forms and wooden boxes embedded in expanses of acid colour tell vibrant, playful stories. It’s contemporary art with a real sense of memory.  

Sebastian Cifuentes presents a new facet of his multifarious talent and invites us into his world of pop art. He draws and paints speech bubbles (Bonkkk!, I Love You…) and sculpts 3D cubes in dazzling, vibrant colours. Inspired by both classical and contemporary painting, he composes unique pieces that transcend artistic movements. His work is anchored in a reality at the crossroads of memory and modernity, of the collective unconscious and contemporary street art. For Cifuentes, art is a field of investigation where different eras meet and cultural diversity is king. His Colombian origins fuel his vision, and his travels widen the horizon of the possible. Naturally enough, his works focus on humanity, both in in terms of their essence and their diversity, but they never exclude the natural world and animals, his ever-loyal companions. It’s a question of both balance and philosophy.

The strength of Cifuentes lies in his ability to sweep away narrow schools of thought, drawing his references from his own tastes and artistic intentions. The first step is drawing. Using masterful pencil strokes, he recreates figures from Caravaggio, Bruegel, even Lucien Freud, reinvents heroes straight from the Bible and mythology, sketches Superman’s girlfriend, the stars of American cartoons, and produces a new version of Cupid and Psyché’s embrace. But Cifuentes is also a tattoo artist, and his imagery also hints at 1950s inkwork. Then comes the colour palette: think Andy Warhol with a South American twist, with fields of strong, contrasting colours. Last but not least, he introduces volume using cubes that pick out the details, zoom in on a face, a gaze, a skull, an onomatopoeia. These painted wooden boxes create an almost mirror-like effect that enhances the impression of anamorphosis.

Although Sebastian Cifuentes’ work does not, strictly speaking, belong to street art, he borrows its codes. His canvases are his walls, and his studio takes the place of the street. His mosaic drawings and paintings stand in for collages, while the perspectives he creates are reminiscent of installations. Stepping beyond short-lived dialogue, he engages in a more enduring exchange, creating imaginary but symbolic slices of life that reflect the way he experiences and thinks about the world.   

Sebastian Cifuentes was born in 1977 in Bogota (Colombia). He studied art at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University and became interested in sculpture long before painting. He has an undeniable talent for handling materials: moulding them, shaping them, making them his own. In 1999 he was awarded the Philips Prize and began exhibiting in Colombia in the 2000s. His work soon crossed borders: the USA, Europe… and France. He has taken part in many international art fairs, for example at the Grand Palais in Paris, where he settled in 2009.

In 2013, he presented his series of sculpture-paintings entitled "ARBRES" at Galerie BE-Espace, Paris.