Miguel Ortiz Berrocal
"Mini-David", Original Sculpture #1397. Foundry Signature w/ Stamp: Upper Left Side, 1968. This original twenty-six element puzzle sculpture comes with a display stand and catalogue, which shows its use as a hood ornament for a Rolls Royce.
(Spain, 1933 - 2006)
Born near Malaga, Spain in 1933, Miguel Ortiz Berrocal was formally educated in mathematics, chemistry, and the exact sciences. Later he studied architecture. His early education became an important foundation in the evolution of his career as an artist.
His work began to receive acclaim when, at age 21, he exhibited several paintings in the Spanish pavilion of the XXVII Venice Biennale. Shortly after this occasion, Berrocal committed himself to making sculpture. Since then, he has had major exhibitions of his work including a traveling retrospective, originating at the Palacio de Velázquez in Madrid (1984-85), for which a monograph was produced. A retrospective of more than 60 works was mounted at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. He has been the recipient of several important commissions in Madrid, Seville, Bordeaux, Malaga, and Verona, and has received numerous awards and citations, including the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In Malaga, a museum was founded a few years ago devoted to the work of Berrocal, and this past February an exhibition of his work opened at the Conde Duque in Madrid.
Another example of this Gestalt phenomenon is a large wood sculpture titled Richelieu Big (1973). It is unique because it was constructed from 61 elements of laminated and precision-cut wood. The complexity of thought and the mathematical ingenuity that went into the final result is staggering. Again, it is a matter of embedding the conceptual form within the visible exterior and thus demystifying the aura of classical sculpture. Berrocal constructed this impressive work, named for the infamous French Cardinal, as part of a series begun in the '60s that focused on the theme of the classical male torso. Each torso is a dis-mountable sculpture, originally cast in several units. They represent historical or mythical personalities, such as Adamo Secundus, David, Goliath, Samson, and Alexander the Great.
In the meantime, Berrocal is involved with many large-scale projects, public commissions, exhibitions, set designs, and recently with an educational project in Spain in which he created a multiple, Retrato de Adriano (1997-98), to be used specifically for students in developing their cognitive skills. As with his public art, the multiples are also in a sense public, but on a smaller scale. They are public to the extent that the same sculpture is disseminated to 200 people or, in some cases, 10,000 people. This, of course, delights Berrocal as he continues to provoke the existing market and, in doing so, attempts to make a significant contribution to trans-global culture by evoking the fundamental questions, the questions that make us reflect on the puzzle of existence.
Yet within this publicity, some viewers may also find an intimacy—a conjugation of the democratization of art as idea and art as a tactile, visual, physical, even metaphysical reality. In this sense, Miguel Berrocal's attitude toward sculpture is to try to make it completely convincing. His aesthetic approach emanates from the age-old position of classicism; but within that vocabulary he is striving to demystify the pretensions that have accumulated within Western culture for so many centuries. However, he is not out to destroy a tradition, but who wants to have fun with it, and to teach us something in the process.