Contemporary artist Roberto Benavidez finds inspiration in imagery and literature from hundreds of years ago. Influenced by works like Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, he manages to fuse the famous source materials with elements that are significant to his own life. Benavidez grew up in rural southern Texas where the party piñata is commonplace. He uses the crepe paper creations as the basis for his sculptures. In the past, Benavidez recreated the strange beasts found in Bosch’s triptych but has more recently turned to the Luttrell Psalter, a famous medieval manuscript.
Among the writing in the Luttrell Psalter are illustrations of saints and Bible stories. They go beyond everyday scenes, however, and depict many fantastical hybrid creatures—a fact that Benavidez chooses to highlight. He calls this series Illuminated Piñata, and he crafts the three-dimensional beasts contained within the pages. They include oddities like a hare with a giraffe-like neck and hooved feet, as well as a dotted rodent with only one back leg and a tongue that looks like a tree branch.
“I have always admired and gravitated towards old painting techniques,” Benavidez says of his piñatas. “The oddness of the creatures and people, the odd perspective—they were captivating. As a sculptor, the challenge of taking these odd 2D forms and recreating [them] into 3D is the most fulfilling challenge for me right now.”
Benavidez’s sculptures from his Bosch series will be on view at the Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, CA starting February 2, 2019.