Ricardo Brey

Installation and Sculpture

Dust bathing, 2017
1250 birds molded in clay
Installation view, Kathmandu Triennale, Patan Museum (2017)

Dust bathing, 2017
1250 birds molded in clay
Installation view, Kathmandu Triennale, Patan Museum (2017)

Birdland, 2001
Iron and glass showcase, saxophone, ostrich eggs, coats, rubber tube, buttons, coins, trinkets, number plates, metal objects, tie, pencils, music stands, dishes
62.99h x 62.99w x 55.11d in (60h x 140w x 140d cm)

Venus, 2004
Military blanket and funnels
61h x 70.8w x 4.7d in (155h x 180w x 12d cm)

Parallel Universe, 2009
Dice, iron, sawdust
9h x 12.25w x 118.1d in (3h x 31w x 300d cm)

Saturno devorando a uno de sus hijos, 2012
Spheres and metal chain
Dimensions variable


Since the mid-1980s, Ricardo Brey has produced sculptures and installations that combine disparate materials to poetically examine the human condition. Ranging in form from carved wood Santería and Yoruba-inspired sculptures to sprawling tableaus that feature recycled readymades like umbrellas, tires, and even venetian blinds, these pieces both invite and resist interpretation through their evocative use of materials. As Brey elaborates in a 1996 artist statement, “I refuse to limit my work to a specific subject or to the expression of a specific reality … I create into my work spaces of interaction in which I link elements that at first seem to be opposite but in reality are indissolubly connected: nature/culture, organic/inorganic, western/non-western, my goal is to transmit with my sculptures and installations … this hybrid nature, posing questions rather than answers.”

Constructing transcultural dialogues that challenge divisions between myth, religion, and systems of thought and values through the recontextualization of prosaic objects and materials, Brey’s “hybrid” works invite reflections on humanity’s origins and identity. At the same time, often appearing on the verge of collapse, as though frozen in some uncanny equilibrium mid-chaos, these pieces occupy a liminal territory of devastation and creation; in Brey’s words, they are situated in “the meeting point between destruction and growth.” Ultimately, as the curator and writer Roel Arkestijn argues, “[Brey] allows in his work apparently irreconcilable viewpoints on the world to exist next to each other. … Without denying the achievements of modern science Brey takes refuge in myths because they touch on the timeless vital questions.”