The urban industrial aesthetic is common in Christian Lagata’s work. Materials like cement, tiles, steel, latex, esparto grass, PVC and rubber appear without artifice or refinement in his work, giving a starring role to elements we would normally view as waste or rubble. By using them, Lagata situates the spectator in those ruins that are also an integral part of cities.
Gran serpiente pequeña serpiente, presa (Big Snake Little Snake, Prey) is an installation comprising several steel sculptures, cement casts of pipes, latex pieces covered with rust and residue, tiles and a central elevated piece with its own lighting.
The vertical structures recall totem figures, but certain elements, such as their use of modular structures, are also associated with 20th-century sculpture. Despite the unpolished welding and sharp edges, the works do not seem cold, perhaps because those imperfections can be interpreted by viewers as signs of vulnerability. To a large extent, Lagata’s work establishes an ongoing dialogue between the supposed roughness of the materials he works with and our undeniable familiarity with them. In that sense, his production offers us a “human scale”, proportions and vestiges of the past actions of men and women like us.
The installation presents a purely formal aspect of intersecting vertical and horizontal planes, inviting us to read them from top to bottom and left to right. However, it also posits reflections on the construction of the modern and contemporary city and how the pre-established places we now inhabit mould our lives. The city is not a novel theme in the arts. From 19th-century flânerie to Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception, the urban world has been the subject of many contemporary musings. After all, our ecosystem is no longer hills and valleys but asphalt and concrete.