Carlos Zapata Sacred Book
Simultaneously sophisticated yet folkesque carvings deriving from a pan-cultural pollination, coalesce with fragrant pieces of rough un-carved wood in Carlos Zapata’s quiet and contemplative studio, a former farm building on the outskirts of Falmouth in Cornwall. Zapata’s works are both distinctive and accomplished, developed from the young boy who made dolls with his Grandmother back in his native Colombia. Working through the process of making, Zapata reveals a deeply personal narrative which extends in to a broader universal understanding. His sensual and evocative works touch and dwell upon themes of class, race and empathy alongside hope, faith and connectivity. Recent works offer wider exploration of the ubiquitous and far reaching nature of the sacred, through examination of the ritualistic, spiritual and sacrificial object, within both his personal and extended culture. ‘Sacred Book’ clambers for the deep, point of origin of our species relationship with the spiritual.
Zapata originates from Columbia, where reflections on rooted, sacred experiences, provided a formative part of his upbringing, and an ‘essence’ to who he was to become as an artist. Here, retellings of accepted myths rub shoulders with personal parables and daily struggle and desire. In Latin America the contemporary employment of idols can seem commonplace, but their use also reflects a complicated and difficult society where they are relied upon in times of help- lessness or yearning. Many search for restoration, stability and protection; while the vulnerable seek aid, reassurance and comfort, and the guilty seek validation and redemption. They remain very much a part of the modern experience. Understanding a little more about the origination of icons, or the process of ritual and sacrifice, it becomes apparent that many practices materialise during times of hardship or unrest, this is called the ‘cult of crisis’ by anthropologists. Through this focus upon the sacred object, Zapata highlights our perennial yearning, but also in some way emphasises a spiritual absence or vacuum within 21st Century Western Culture, a culture where that ‘cult of crisis’ now seems almost palpable. With ‘Sacred Book’ Zapata reinforces that the syncretic nature of sacred human behaviour not only binds our species and ancestors together upon its mortal coil, but forms an intrinsic part of our attempted reach for the infinite. For Zapata he simply says: “When I work I Iet things flow and I try not to question. I just do it and see what happens. That is the closest way I can find contact with a higher reality. Maybe it is a place between a physical and spiritual existence which helps me meditate on wider human nature, to a point of origin, to what is primitive, both pre and beyond any organised religion.”
“...time was not passing... it was turning in a circle...”
Gabriel García Márquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude