Enrique Cabrera is a contemporary artist originally from Veracruz, Mexico, who is dedicated to promoting Mexican culture through his work. What started as a career in sculpture restoration has expanded on a monumental scale to include his works being displayed everywhere from the Meatpacking District in New York City to Herrick Park in East Hampton, the Louvre in Paris to Faena in Miami. We caught up with the artist to learn more.
Tell us about your background as an artist and how you started out.
I am primarily a self-taught and did not even consider myself to be an artist until later in my life. I never participated in or attended any type of schooling on my journey which allowed me to create my own unique vision as I developed throughout my life. Technically, it all started when I was 14. I was a church bassist and also played the piano and drums. My artistic evolution began with my first contact with the metal. I became fascinated with each instrument I touched and was constantly making adjustments to optimize my skills.
When I turned 20, I discovered CENIDIAP (National Centre of Investigation in Fine Arts) through a contact at Sanborn’s. This institution was looking for people for restoration in a collaboration project with the Government of Mexico to project artists. At that time the word artist did not exist for me. I was just a person who was cleaning and restoring metal pieces because I enjoyed it. In 1997 I traveled to Paris to do more restoration and cleaning work. Less than a year later I was offering maintenance services doing anything from reconstruction to repair of various metals (aluminum, copper, bronze, brass, stainless steel, alloy, etc.).
I started taking risks and making things outside of the norm. I mixed textures and colors and invented new formulas based on tests from my early days. I was confident in the results my formulas would have and that gave me the courage I needed to allow people to begin using my work.
Once I allowed myself to take the risk of sharing my work, business started to pick up quickly and more and more opportunities came my way.
Your works have been exhibited everywhere from the Louvre in Paris to Herrick Park in East Hampton. Tell us about your artistic process and how you create?
I truly put my all into creating my pieces. I like to be able to create art that brings benefit to people and tells a story, so I keep this concept in mind from the moment I start a new project. I also try to always keep the perspective of the audience in mind as I work through a piece. This helps guide me through the process knowing I have a responsibility to deliver something that will make a positive impact on society. I make sure to enjoy the privilege I have creating each piece and use that motivation to propel me through every project.
In 2008 you created your first skull sculpture. Tell us about how this technique would become one of your signatures.
Naia is considered one of the earliest-known residents of the Americas, but her skull has a shape associated with African or South Pacific populations rather than the typical Siberian appearance. I focused on bringing her to life through my sculpture. My technique was rooted in showcasing the social and cultural impact she would have had and how to best represent that through art. The idea of choosing this project to share with the world was in effort to raise awareness among Mexicans that in every destination of our country there is much to learn and explore.
Talk more about your work with the Mexican government restoring historical pieces.
The Bicentennial of the Independence of Mexico was festivities held in 2010 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the armed struggle for the country’s independence in 1810. As I had already restored and refurbished the Sanborn’s buildings (old mansions with large brass and bronze chandeliers, railings, incredible sculptures, etc.) and handled maintenance — they offered me a chance to participate if I presented a project.
In a conversation with a friend, I discovered that the important statues in that area were neglected and deteriorated. This led to the inspiration behind my project which ultimately became restoring the Bicentennial route. Once approved, I drew up a document that would give me the authorization of the Mexican Government for the municipal presidents and I was proposed to charge them as much as I thought considerable. Thus, in 2008, the renovation of the Bicentennial Route began.
Tell us about the El Toro de Oro collection and where they have been exhibited.
Two reproductions of the original Meatpacking Golden Bull were exhibited at different auctions. One of them was part of the sixth LuisaViaToma auction for UNISEF. This splendid bronze sculpture was sold for €625,000. LuisaViaRoma is an initiative that uses the luxury fashion platform to generate positive social impact and support important causes such as children’s education. It collaborates with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Since its launch in 2015, LVR Editions has donated more than €1.7 million to UNISEF’s education programs, which have served to provide children with access to quality education, as well as teacher training and the purchase of school supplies.
The second reproduction auctioned off went to amfAR, an organization dedicated to the research, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other diseases. amfAR has funded thousands of these projects around the world and organizes several fundraising events and galas each year, including the famous amfAR de Cannes Gala during the Cannes Film Festival. Specifically, this second piece was purchased for €1 million at the Venice International Film Festival, an event presented by Campari and the Red Sea International Film Festival.
Tell us about the platinum bull that was exhibited in East Hampton.
The Platinum Bull is an incredible sculpture measuring 14 x 7 feet and is the twin brother of El Toro de Oro, the sculpture with over 1.2 billion views in the world press, featured in The Meatpacking District. The Platinum Bull also appeared in Southampton, at the Hamptons Fine Arts Fair.
Talk more about your exhibit at the Hamptons Fine Art Fair last summer.
The Fine Art Fair is the most important art fair in the United States. Last year was perhaps the widest art selection ever shown in the Hamptons. There were over 7,000 local residents exploring this exhibit, and I was given the privilege to present the largest monument sculpture in the history of Hamptons Fine Art Fair, The Platinum Bull.
What do you have coming up for 2023?
2023 is a continuation year for me as I will be continuing work that was started in 2022. This summer my new Titanium Bull will make his appearance in the Hamptons Fine Art Fair. Also, the same Titanium Bull will be presented in Venice Biennale of Architecture. The Big Apple (La Gran Manzana) is the most important project created in collaboration with Mitsui Fudosan America Inc. So, as I announced last year, it will have a limited series edition of 7,777 sculptures of La Gran Manzana this year.