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Creative Process at Biddington's
JAVIER ASTORGA sculpture Rostro de Hueyatl


CREATIVE PROCESS visits the Xochimilco (Mexico City) studio
of metal sculptor Javier Astorga.

Javier ASTORGA: My recent series of small and medium-scale sculptures entitled "La Huasteca desnudo del tiempo (The Huastecs Removed from Time)" was inspired by sculpture, masks and motifs of the Huastecs--a pre-Hispanic people from the eastern gulf side of Mexico. Seeing these ancient works seemed to breathe new life into my own sculpture--and I decided that I wanted to reinterpret them, not as static pieces, but as works suffused with life and motion.

JAVIER ASTORGA Sculpture "Rostro de Hueyatl (Hueyatl Face)"
Steel with Patina & Natural Oxidation, 27.5" high, 2002
Click to view detail

Huastec Stone figure called The Adolescent

Javier ASTORGA: My art is deeply committed to the search for the expressive capability of the sculptural material. Ideas from both the ancient Huastecas and the skilled contemporary Huasteca craftsmen have nourished my sculptural development. In my sculpture entitled "The Teenager", my point of departure was a Huastec stone sculpture that archeologists have named "The Adolescent".

Huasteca Stone Sculpture called
"The Adolescent"
Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Mexico City

Javier Astorga painting study for The Teenager

Javier ASTORGA: My drawings and paintings on paper represent the early stages of the process of making my sculpture. As the drawings develop, I begin to see where the cuts in the metal will need to be made.

JAVIER ASTORGA Painting Study on Paper for
"The Teenager"

Javier Astorga steel sculpture  The Teenager Javier Astorga  with steel sculpture  The Teenager

Javier ASTORGA: The sculpture is an organism; I try to transform the material in a way that I can identify myself with it.

JAVIER ASTORGA with Metal Sculpture
"The Teenager"
64" high (without base), 2002

View of Procession Xochimilco
Javier ASTORGA: Each day a procession "The Walk of the Niñopa" goes down my street complete with fully costumed celebrants and fireworks. I often watch it from my terrace: This Niñopa is a small-size wooden sculpture carved by a Spanish craftsman around 1570 to commemorate the first Xochimilca who was baptized right after the conquest of the tribes by the Spaniards. (Xochimilcas are the tribal group that inhabited this area of the city, fully covered by nearly 200 miles of water channels, much of which still exists today.)
Procession "The Walk of the Niñopa"
Xochimilco, Mexico

Javier ASTORGA: After hearing the mass celebrated specifically offered for him daily, the Niñopa leaves the cathedral, and people escort the sacred boy to his home while dancing and setting off fireworks in a joyful celebration. This celebration goes back in time as far as the "Cantares de Gestas", Catholic celebrations offered in Spain to commemorate the recovery of territories formerly conquered by Arabs in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Javier Astorga steel sculpture  Pirotecnia

Javier ASTORGA: I collected some of the spent rockets from the procession and included them in this sculpture: "Como una pirotecnia nos iremos apagando". As part of the "Haustecas" series, it is a metaphor for a culture that flourished, then was extinguished. Like nearly all my works, this mixed-media sculpture creates a strong sense of movement. People often remark that I draw in space--with a lot of freedom and motion.

Studio View of Javier Astorga Sculpture
"Como una pirotecnia nos iremos apagando
(Like Fireworks We Are Extinguished)"

Patinated Steel with Fireworks Casings and Oil Paint
Click to view detail.

Xavier Astorga steel sculpture Veil

Javier ASTORGA: My personal and artistic heritage is Mexican and European. I owe much to Picasso--and I'm happy to say so. In his work, Picasso suggested many, many ideas that have yet to be explored. I also admire Julio Gonzalez. In his sculpture, Gonzalez achieves expression and movement. To me, sculpture is meant to be about movement.

JAVIER ASTORGA Sculpture "La Guadalupana"
Welded & Polished Iron, 17.75" high, 2001

Javier Astorga studio with sculpture Mictlantecuhtli

Studio View with
JAVIER ASTORGA Sculpture "Mictlantecuhtli"
Polished Steel with Cow Skull, 31.5" high, 2003

Javier Astorga  with steel sculpture in China

Javier ASTORGA: I first went to China in 2001 for the International City Sculpture Symposium in Changchun. The Chinese government is making a major commitment to contemporary art in presenting large scale contemporary sculpture in public venues by sculptors from many countries. In 2001, we made this large face "Song of Springtime".

JAVIER ASTORGA with Sculpture "Song of Springtime"
Bent 2 inch Iron Plates, Welded & Rusted with Natural Oxidation
12 feet high, Changchun, China 2001

Steel sketch for Horse of the Wind

Javier ASTORGA: In 2002, the International City Sculpture Exhibition and Symposium in Beijing chose my work "Horse of the Wind" to be fabricated as a large scale sculpture. This piece is an early steel sketch for the horse.

JAVIER ASTORGA "Steel Sketch for Horse of the Wind"

Javier Astorga  with steel maquette for Horse of the Wind

Javier ASTORGA: This more developed sculpture is the specific maquette chosen to be made as a monumental scale sculpture in Beijing. Both the selection committee and people on the street voted for my work. I am proud that my sculpture has popular appeal.

JAVIER ASTORGA with "Small-Scale Maquette for of
Horse of the Wind"

Javier Astorga  mid-scale Horse of the Wind

Javier ASTORGA: Before becoming a sculptor, I studied to be an architect. When building a model, the architect imagines himself reduced to the scale of that tiny structure. I find this technique very useful when I am enlarging a piece of sculpture. I visualize myself in scale to the re-sized piece. It's very important to think of how a person physically relates to the piece to increase the size properly.

JAVIER ASTORGA Steel Sculpture
"Medium Scale Model for Horse of the Wind"
In the Artist's Studio

Javier Astorga  large scale sulpture Horse of the Wind

Javier ASTORGA: Over a three-month period, with a crew of eight workers, we made this piece from solid 2-inch steel. Making a large-scale piece from enduring materials is extremely important to me. If it were hollow-cast, it would look like something from a stage set. The force employed to bend the steel and the difficulty in making the sculpture is reflected in the finished work. Idea and material combine to give the sculpture power and presence.

JAVIER ASTORGA Monumental Sculpture "Horse of the Wind "
Bent 2 inch Iron Plates, Welded with Natural Oxidation
13 feet high x 17 feet long, Beijing, China 2002

Javier Astorga small steel sculpture El Rey

Javier ASTORGA: For a sculpture symposium in Norway in 2002, I decided to develop this earlier small piece I had made from junk metal and found objects called "The King of Trash". For the project, a source in Norway made available to me large--usually prohibitively expensive--pieces of scrap stainless steel.

"El rey de basura (The King of Trash) "
Gears, Industrial Trash, Painted & Oxidized
28 inches high, 1995

cardboard model for sculpture

Javier ASTORGA: As a study for the large work I made this model in cardboard. For a private commission, this is how I present an idea to the client; it gives a sense of the projected piece without requiring great time and expense.

Cardboard Maquette for Norway Sculpture Project

The King stainless steel sculptureThe King stainless steel sculpture

Javier ASTORGA: The Norway project resulted in this monumental-scale sculpture in polished stainless steel. Appropriate to the elegant material, we shortened the title to: "The King".

Stainless Steel Sculpture
"El Rey (The King)"
17 feet high, 2002

Javier Astorga


View sculpture by Javier Astorga offered for sale in
Biddington's Contemporary Art Gallery.
Price range: $1250 to $6500

Born 1964 in Mexico City, Javier Astorga graduated in architecture from Universidad Ibeoramericana in 1988 (with the highest point average in his class). He studied architectonic shape analysis and perception theories with Buz Yudell and Ricardo Legorreta at UCLA. He also studied with architects Francisco Serrano, José Creixell and Enrique Norten. In universities in Mexico and abroad, Javier Astorga has lectured about urban sculpture and the analysis of context on sculptural creation, as well as the relation between sciences and arts.

Selected Recent Solo Exhibitions:
2003 "Hausteca desnudo del tiempo", Instituto de Investigaciones Dr.José Maria Luis Mora, Mexico City.
2001 "Javier Astorga", Centre Cultural Fundacio Caixa Terassa; Barcelona, Spain.
2001 "Ensembles of Desire", Universidad de las Americas, Mexico City.
2000 "Nezahualcoyotl, The Age of Flowers", Traveling Exhibition, Valence, France.
1999 "Urban Images", Hall of Exhibitions Library Francisco Javier Clavijero, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City.
1998 "A Piece of the City", Gallery Estela Shapiro, Mexico City.
1997 "Sculpture and Industrial Design", House of Furnishing & Architecture MIKASA, Mexico City.
1995 "The Trade of the Senses", Twelve Years of Sculpture by Javier Astorga. House of  Culture José Manzo, City of Puebla, Mexico.
1992 "Urban Images and Our Perception", Poliforum Cultural Siqueiros, Mexico City.

Selected Group Exhibitions:
2001-2002 "20 Artists at Institute Mora", 20th anniversary of the Institute of Researches Dr.José Maria Luis Mora, Mexico City.
2000 "Visual Artists from Mexico", Traveling Exhibition, Hall of Exhibitions World Trade Center; Poliforum Cultural Siqueiros. Mexico City.
1997 "8 Mexican Artists", House of Furnishing and Architecture, MIKASA. Mexico City.
1996 "Mexican Artists", Retrospective; National Center of Arts & Crafts, Paris France.
1992 "First Biennale of Painting and Sculpture", Monterrey, Mexico.

Monumental sculpture The Andean Cross
"Bolivia 23-30, The Andean Cross"
Monumental Steel Sculpture, 2004
4 x 5 x 2.5 meters
Simposio El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia
Selected Monumental Sculpture Commissions in Public & Corporate Collections:
2004 "Bolivia 23-30 The Andean Cross", Simposio El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia
2002 "Horse of the Wind", International City Sculpture Exhibition and Symposium, Beijing 2002, China.
2002 "The King" City Sculpture Symposium "Melting Pot 18-8", Jorpeland, Norway.
2001 "Song of Springtime", International Sculpture Symposium, Changchun World Sculpture Park, China.
1993 "The Serial Woman", Coca Cola Company, Mexico City.


CREATIVE PROCESS at Biddington's is designed as a forum for watching art in the making. Usually, this process happens in the privacy of the artist's studio. At BIDDINGTON'S
Contemporary Art Gallery & upmarket, online art & antiques auction--we find it interesting to witness the steps leading to the end product and to hear the artists speak about their work in the relaxed surroundings of their own studios.

Email Biddington's with your comments.

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