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Exhibitions

Nacho Carbonell

Carpenters Workshop Gallery inaugurates its new space in Los Angeles with the debut US solo show of the Spanish artist.

Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Los Angeles
25th June – 9th September 2022

By Emma Crichton-Miller / 24th June 2022
(Left to right) Julien Lombrail, Nacho Carbonell, Brad Pitt, Löic Le Gaillard at ‘Nacho Carbonell’, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: River Callaway © BFA.com

(Left to right) Julien Lombrail, Nacho Carbonell, Brad Pitt and Löic Le Gaillard at ‘Nacho Carbonell’, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA
COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: River Callaway © BFA.com

A BUZZING PRIVATE view for artist Nacho Carbonell’s first solo exhibition in the US launched Carpenters’ Workshop Gallery’s newest outpost in West Hollywood this week.

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: River Callaway © BFA.com

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA
COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: River Callaway © BFA.com

The astonishing work of the Spanish artist – tactile, hand-built sculpture, made from organic materials and debris, arising with primal energy from a root in function – makes a spectacular entrance for Carpenters Workshop Gallery onto the LA scene.

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Carababas

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA
COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Carababas

The more than a dozen new works on show here are the fruit of two year’s thinking and dreaming through the pandemic. During that period, Carbonell returned to his family home on the East Coast of Spain, near Valencia, drawing deeply on childhood memories of playing with his grandfather, and working with familiar materials such as sand and sea.

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Carababas

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA, with ‘El Peñon (TC 3/2022)’, 2022 (detail)
COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Carababas

While on the Spanish coast he rediscovered diving, as well as a renewed fascination with archaeology and the accidental geological expressions of this specific varied landscape – with its sea, rocky mountains, fruit trees and olive groves. “With this collection I was more conscious of trying to mirror my roots, where I am coming from,” Carbonell acknowledges.

Nacho Carbonell, ‘Contain Nature Cabinet (TC 13/2022)’, 2022 COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: River Callaway © BFA.com

Nacho Carbonell, ‘Contain Nature Cabinet (TC 13/2022)’, 2022
COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: River Callaway © BFA.com

Born in Spain in 1980, Carbonell graduated in 2003 from Cardenal Herrera University before going on to study at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, where he now lives and runs his studio. During his time at the prestigious design school, Carbonell discovered that design was going to be, for him, a tool “to serve society and what we need” – rather than a tool to serve industry. He adds, “To speak a universal language, [design] needs to transmit an emotion.”

Nacho Carbonell COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Nacho Carbonell
COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Carbonell has become renowned for his cocooning creations, such as chandeliers that soar like billowing cloud formations and chairs that seem to sprout their own enclosing arbours.

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Carababas

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA, with ‘Candy Cotton Long Cocoon Chandelier (214/2022)’, 2022 
COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Carababas

Constructed from metal, cloth, paper, concrete, clay, cork, sand and broken glass, these works seem to answer to our most hidden and profound needs for shelter and comfort, even while evoking the wider landscape. Lidewij Edelkoort puts it well in her catalogue essay: “He has an intuitive gift for assembling high and low materials that bond to form instinctive and primitive beauty.”

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Carababas

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA, with ‘El Peñon (TC 3/2022)’, 2022 (detail)
COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Carababas

Löic le Gaillard, co-founder of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, invokes Italian Arte-Povera and its radical engagement with poor materials together with the powerfully mythic, mixed-media material-based sculpture of Spanish artist Antoni Tàpies as precedents for Carbonell’s practice.

He also points to the strong influence of Austrian artist Franz West’s provocative and boundary defying sculpture and furniture. Le Gaillard notes of the new body of work: “These sculptures mark a real departure from Nacho’s earlier work.” If so, it is a departure that is also a free and confident return to the original sources of his imagination.

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Carababas

Exhibition view, ‘Nacho Carbonell’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA, with ‘White Net (TC 10/2022)’, 2022
COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Carababas

The wide range of furniture archetypes – cabinets, tables, chairs, screens, buffets, lights and chandeliers – is united by its collaged, rough hewn aesthetic, drawing on memories of touch as much as vision. Some of his pieces Carbonell specifically describes as ‘memoralia’; they are, he says “a tribute to what we remember.”

Nacho Carbonell with ‘Dried Cabinet (TC 11/2022)’, 2022 at ‘Nacho Carbonell’, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: River Callaway © BFA.com

Nacho Carbonell with ‘Dried Cabinet (TC 11/2022)’, 2022 at ‘Nacho Carbonell’, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, LA
COURTESY: Nacho Carbonell & Carpenters Workshop Gallery / PHOTOGRAPH: River Callaway © BFA.com

The choice of Carbonell for the launch of their new gallery, here to engage a west coast audience, was an obvious one. As Julien Lombrail, co-founder of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, puts it, “Nacho is perfect for LA and the wild, wild west – strong, rogue and beautiful at the same time, it’s art from the gut. Each unique work is a portrait of his brain.”

Nacho Carbonell at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, 7070 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA.

Article by Emma Crichton-Miller
Article by Emma Crichton-Miller
Emma Crichton-Miller is Editor-in-Chief of The Design Edit. View all articles by Emma Crichton-Miller