One Native’s Son: An exhibition of rare beauty

The
exhibition One Native’s Son – with its theme of sediments

,
striations and inclusions: 30 million years on earth – is the bold and arresting
subject matter of Horacio Esteban’s latest solo show of Caymanite sculptures.

The
show’s title uses word play to explain Mr. Esteban’s heritage and his
membership of the art local collective Native Sons.

The
exhibition, which enjoyed a healthy turnout at its opening night last Thursday,
at Arteccentrix Fine Art Gallery, features 26 beautifully hued pieces and runs
the gamut of subject matter, colour gradations and size. In the sculptor’s
opinion, the standout piece is titled Magic Roundabout and is a 48” x 30”
sculpture depicting gloriously lifelike stingrays, coral and shoals of fish.

To
Mr. Esteban, who has been working with Caymanite for 20 years, the singular
properties of the indigenous stone makes completing each creation a labour of
love.“No two pieces of rock are the same,” he said, adding: “I like being able
to sculpt and have the added bonus of having a multicoloured piece appear
before my eyes… I call it painting with rock.”

The
multi-banded material is the nearest thing Cayman has to a national stone and
is rare. The artist gets most of his raw material from Cayman Brac as, “Its
much harder, has tighter bands and is much older than the Caymanite found in
Grand Cayman,” he explained.

For
Mr. Esteban, who is a largely self-taught sculptor having attended “a few
symposiums and workshops”, the creative process takes one of two routes.
“Either it’s a case of free styling: doing whatever comes into my head at the
time with little internal discussion or planning, or an image starts building
up in my head slowly over time and I can’t get on with it until I’ve looked
around my stone garden for just the right rock,” he said.

The
way he described it, “finding the right stone takes on almost mystical
overtones. “Over the course of a couple of days, I’ll pick up stones and toss
them down until I get the right one. Often I’ll prop a rock up and leave it
there, or in my studio, for a couple of weeks looking at it occasionally out of
the corner of my eye before what it’s supposed to be comes to me,” he said.
Using terms only a true creative could empathise with, he described such eureka
moments more fully. “They [the stones] talk to you. I don’t talk back but I let
them speak to me,” he said.

The
gallery’s owner Nickola McCoy-Snell who said that Mr. Esteban “worked on a
scale unlike any other on the islands” added, “Horacio is an ingenious master
of his chosen craft and we… are delighted and honoured to be the first fine
art gallery in Grand Cayman to host a solo show by this extremely talented
artist and sculptor.

“[T]here
really is something for every taste, including both wall-mounted and
free-standing sculptures in a range of sizes and prices.”

Although
he was commissioned to make two pieces for Queen Elizabeth II by the Cayman
Islands government and others for Hollywood actor Danny Glover and Olympian
Marion Jones, he’s not the type of person to get star struck. “Sure, it’s
gratifying to have your work considered to be in a class of its own, but I
wouldn’t be sculpting if I couldn’t do it really well,” he explained.

For
the sculptor, painter and mosaicist working out of his studio at 606 North West
Point Road in West Bay, is described as “challenging but rewarding work”. His
work has won him a growing clientele of corporate, private and overseas clients
and the respect of his peers. “Working day in and day out with Caymanite
teaches you all you need to know about patience and being practical,” he said.

With
the rare stone so many millennia in the making; he said that he never feels
pressured to rush a piece, only wanting to let the stone’s inherent beauty and
his creativity and craftsmanship show.

One
Native’s Son runs until 5 June at the Arteccentrix Fine Art Gallery in
Governors Square from 10am to 6pm Mondays through Friday and from 10am to 6pm
Saturdays.   

CAYMANLIFEOneNativeSTORY

One of Horacio Estaban’s many eye-catching sculptures.
Photo: Sherry VanWey