David Rodríguez Caballero: The Man With The Steel Canvas

Ana B. Remos


Much like art history, David Rodriguez Caballero’s artistic development was, and still is, a work in progress. Born in 1970 in Pamplona, the historical capital city of Navarre, Spain, Caballero always knew he wanted to become an artist. His involvement with the arts started with after-school activities, which evolved into an academic curriculum that led him to a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at La Universidad del País Vasco in Donostia – San Sebastián, and ultimately to his Master’s degrees in both Museum Sciences and New Technologies and Interventions for Contemporary Art Conservancy and Restoration at Universidad Complutense in Madrid.


Although he defines himself as a painter, he has progressively evolved into what we can call a sculptor, by introducing his work to materials usually associated with sculpture, such as brass and aluminum, turned into pictorial elements that derive in three-dimensional forms, thus altering the traditional canons of painting. “I realize that by eroding and sanding these metals, I am painting. I am making a ‘surface painting’”. In other words, instead of utilizing conventional painting surfaces and materials, Caballero employs the raw metals as both canvas and paint.

His recent exhibition, presented as C-Art Gallery’s debut pop-up show at Miami’s O. Ascanio Gallery, consists of a selection of works created during the last two years, using the materials he is more identified with: metal and vinyl. “On one hand we have the sculptures, which represent the three-dimensional elements within the metals; both free-standing and wall-mounted. On the other hand, we have the reliefs, which are in a closer relationship to the pictorial. Then we have the vinyl pieces, which are more of a ‘retinal’ experience, a stronger allusion to painting.”

In his series of sculptures, Caballero bends, molds and scraps metals to transform these originally rigid materials into organic, abstract and almost weightless forms that manifest themselves as wall reliefs or freestanding sculptures. It is almost as if they naturally transitioned from their inherent state into delicate, multi-fold forms that change when viewed from different angles. Light also plays a fundamental role in the whole visual experience: by scratching the metal surfaces, he introduces delicate textures that, when hit by light and shadow, reflect changes in roughness that resemble paint strokes on a canvas.

Caballero defines his geometric abstractions as a constant reformulation of his own work, which is to say that one work leads to another, and so on. “As it’s always been done in the history of art, I produce works that may be interpreted or deciphered by spectators in a certain way; viewers can draw their own conclusions and theories about it. I collect their responses and they change my life and thus, my work gradually accumulates a certain aura and semantics that are ever changing”. According to Caballero, art is not merely a one-sided experience, but a continuous conceptual interchange between artist and viewer about the artwork. The creator is just one more piece of that puzzle.

Based in New York City since 2010, Caballero now finds himself working with figurative references, a departure from his previous concerns with pure abstraction and geometry. The multicultural character of the city has inspired him to introduce what he calls “masks” that represent African tribal masks and the architecture of the city. “ I now begin my work with representational imagery that I progressively transform into geometric forms through reductionism”.

Caballero’s pieces aren’t only aesthetically pleasing; they are the expression of his own pictographic memory represented as “visual thoughts” infused with the universal language he injects to his metal and vinyl renditions.

Tiki Atencio, David Rodriguez Caballero and Trudy Cejas during the opening of the exhibition at O. Ascanio Gallery, Miami, FL.

He’s got some wonderful projects ahead of him this year, starting in June with a solo exhibition commissioned by art critic and journalist Javier Molins at the Centro del Carmen Museum in Valencia, Spain, followed by another solo exhibit of his works at Marlborough Gallery in Monaco.


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