The Wild Beasts Collection From Scrap Metal to Iconic Animal Sculpture
Of the many striking features of John Lopez’ sculptures, the first to be noticed is definitely their immensity. Their size adds to their iconic feel and is key to the success of The Wild Beasts Collection. In addition to the life-size dimensions of these creatures, there is a myriad of details, all relating to deep concepts. In some pieces, specific metal scraps reference particulars about the site where each animal sculpture is installed. His art in public places always opens up a dialogue between the past and the present, preserving stories in the process of forging a new contemporary aesthetic.
Take Moose for example. It has a wide set of antlers, three metal discs that comprise its broad side, and legs that look as realistic and natural as they do robotic and futuristic. These old farm tools and other leftovers have a rigid shape, yet John Lopez is able to achieve extraordinary detail in the figure despite this. The artist comes from a land of beasts, in South Dakota bison roam the same fields on which he raised livestock, the same earth from which numerous dinosaur fossils were unearthed. This wild history still lives on, Moose is a wholly contemporary expression of its permanence.
The next sculpture in The Wild Beasts Collection shares its name with the mascot of The University of Texas and the most iconic species of livestock from the state—Longhorn. The star is branded into the middle of the bull’s body as a direct reference to Texas. The guitars and the delicate ornamental patterns reference Spanish influence in the state as well as the city of Austin’s thriving music scene. Lopez intimately understands how art in public places can embody its location’s history, just like he considers the history behind his reclaimed metal materials.
There is an environmental subtext to each John Lopez sculpture. Using recycled materials, his process breathes life into what was considered useless. Also, in the case of White Rhino, attention is given to an extremely endangered subject, its perseverance and strength echoed by durable steel. With each new animal sculpture, Lopez must carefully search for the perfect metal pieces to express his unique vision. It is like a painter who makes his own paints from dry pigment, intently crafting that never-before-seen color in their head.
“I am never bored! I look forward to each new creation, and it is helping me grow and develop as an artist.”
His already masterful style continues to evolve, as he finds new shapes to sculpt with and begins to work in more and more distant and diverse locations. We are sure to see many more distinctly memorable wild beasts brought into existence.