Arturo Álvarez creates inimitable and arresting sculpture and lighting installations that have received international recognition
Lighting is too simple a word for the flights of fancy and technical innovation created by Arturo Álvarez at his studio near Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. His work explores human relationships, the natural environment and the innovative use of materials, with light as the common thread. “I like to define myself as a creator, because I am an artist, designer and craftsman at the same time,” says Arturo, whose ethereal and mesmerising pieces merge sculpture, lighting design and art installation.
Arturo started a new phase in his career in 2020, selling the lamp company he had founded 25 years prior. He now focuses on creating pieces as limited editions of nine, as well as one-off works. This new independence, he says, “has allowed me total creative freedom to talk about issues that concern me, such as the human being and human relationships.” The light and shadow of our emotional lives are explored in pieces such as Nós, Leria and Amarna, whose clusters of elongated mesh masks cast eerily silhouetted all-seeing faces. Design aficionados, architects and gallery curators were quick to appreciate the impact of his work, with his collections shown in galleries and museums and to acclaim at the Salone del Mobile in Milan.
The inspiration for the work comes from the process itself. “People ask me how my ideas arise and I always say it is from working with my hands. For me, handmade and concept go together; in my work, I cannot separate them.”
Self-taught and motivated by the spirit of rebellion and curiosity, Arturo uses raw materials outside of their usual context. “I am concerned about what is happening to the environment and I strive to make pieces with sustainable criteria, using materials from my environment – recycling and reusing.” Airexa is made using bamboo and palm tree spikes. “Twisting the bamboo with heat, I create the skeleton to which I then insert the spikes, one by one. The piece is suspended from the ceiling, and with the help of spotlights the sculpture and the space are illuminated.”
As a creator of striking, emotionally charged artworks, Arturo reshapes the concept of lighting. “Working with limited and unique editions allows me to be constantly creating, which is what really interests me.”