For his exhibition at ICA Miami, Carlos Sandoval de León will create a site-specific, large-scale architectural installation that incorporates both new and existing sculptures. In these works, Sandoval de León deconstructs, repurposes, manipulates, and hybridizes raw, industrial materials with found objects, incorporating bricks, earth, discarded clothes, volcanic pearls, industrial soap, bullet-proof plexiglass, pizza boxes, armadillo shells, and souvenirs, among other materials.
For his sculptures and layered installations, Sandoval de León sources materials from his neighborhood in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, as well as from his travels throughout the United States and Mexico. Exploring the poetics of material culture, the artist draws out the concealed labor and socioeconomic dimensions of care embedded in these everyday objects.
“The product-driven culture we are surrounded by or marketed to creates a distance between the actual producer and the user,” says the artist. “I am compelled by this distance as a rich space to work from.” Sandoval de León explores this “space” in manifold ways, removing objects and materials from their original contexts and opening up a variety of interpretations that can reflect viewers’ backgrounds and experiences.
Sandoval de León’s large-scale wooden structure for ICA Miami incorporates a number of his existing intimately scaled sculptures. These include I 95 (2019), a collection of ten plexiglass containers filled with differently colored soil specimens encased in an oversize leather book bag. Collected en route from Miami, where the artist grew up, to New York, where he is based, the geological remnants trace his trajectory. While creating an immediate material portrait of landscapes along the East Coast, it leaves the social and cultural aspects of these places unseen. Other pieces included in the installation are made of the distinct-smelling pink industrial soap often used to clean floors in public buildings. Through a process of grinding and molding, Sandoval de León turns the soap bars into a malleable material he sculpts into a variety of forms, such as dogs or imprints of his hands. Psychologically charged, his works catalyze both individual associations among viewers and broader questions of how objects communicate the histories of those who make, use, and inhabit them.
Carlos Sandoval de León (b. 1975, Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo León, Mexico) has participated in numerous group exhibitions in the United States, including Project Row Houses, Houston (2015); El Museo Bienal: The (S) Files, El Museo del Barrio, New York (2011–12); and Salad Days, Artists Space, New York (2008). Recent solo exhibitions have been presented at Central Fine, Miami Beach (2018); and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (2015).