Los Carpinteros: Objeto Vital

LOS CARPINTEROS | Cuarteto (2011) | Madeira pintada, metal e bronze cromado Coleção particular Comodato, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Quebec

LOS CARPINTEROS | Cuarteto (2011) | Madeira pintada, metal e bronze cromado Coleção particular Comodato, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Quebec

LOS CARPINTEROS | Cuatro guitarras (2015) | Violões acústicos Dimensões variadas © Los Carpinteros

'Los Carpinteros: Objeto Vital' opened at CCBB in Rio Janeiro and it will be on view through August 2! This is the last stop of the traveling exhibition, which has already been to São Paulo, Brasília and Belo Horizonte

Prepare to be charmed and fascinated by the ‘Los Carpinteros: Objeto Vital’ exhibition that offers never-before-seen works of art bursting with ideas, that have been produced through the creative use of architecture, sculpture and design, by one of the most highly-acclaimed art collectives at work today.

With large-scale installations, Los Carpinteros – consisting of Cuban artists Marco Castillo and Dagoberto Rodríguez – are well known for their strong social appeal and their acid, shrewd and humorous critical eye. The artists question the utility of things and explore the clash between function and object. The exhibition will be displayed by CCBB RJ.

The exhibition includes more than 70 works of art: sketches, watercolors, sculptures, installations, videos and site-specific pieces. The public will be able to follow each phase the collective has been through, from the 1990s up to never-before-seen pieces created especially for the exhibition in Brazil, starting from the early ideas and designs. The show is curated by Rodolfo de Athayde of Arte A Produções.

“The object will be the protagonist of this exhibition, forced into constant metamorphosis by the artistic view: expressed in drawings, created and tested in three-dimensional models, or achieving their maximum expression as a utopia in the large installations,” explains the curator.

Founded in 1992, the collective brings together Marco Castillo, Alexandre Arrechea and Dagoberto Rodriguez. The artists were given their name by their colleagues due to their empathy with the materials they work with and the profession that was brought back as a visual means of expression. In 2003, Alexandre Arrechea left the group and Marco and Dagoberto continued the work. 

Los Carpinteros: Objeto Vital will be presented in three parts:

1. Object of Craft

This part is dedicated to the initial period, defined by the hand crafting of objects inspired by routine experiences and by the intensive use of watercolor as a part of the process of visualization of the initial idea behind the work of art. The pieces are the fruit of the intensive exchange of creative ideas that took place when the artists were studying at The University of Arts of Cuba in Havana. Naturally, they also reflect the 1990s context in Cuba that was in serious financial crisis.

2. Possessed Object
This shows the moment in which the work of Los Carpinteros started to find its way into the world’s most important collections, in the form of works which, going beyond specifically Cuban problems, address universal existential issues. “The trans-territorial nature that is characteristic of contemporary art takes the artists to an open space where they share their concerns with creators of different nationalities, going to the very edge of their origins,” explains the curator. Many of the ambitious projects that were sketched out on paper materialize at this time with the opening of new perspectives. In this part of the show a special place was reserved for the objects of sound: those pieces that have a direct connection with music, that cultural expression par excellence that defines the idea of what it is to be “Cuban”.

3. Object of Space

In this section, special attention is placed on architecture and structures, these being constant themes in the work of the artists, who repeatedly choose references from their urban surroundings before subverting them by altering the context and function. This dialogue, so characteristic of the work of Los Carpinteros, runs through the entire exhibition and has a special space reserved for it in this section.


With a delicate balance between humor and political commentary, between the global and the contextual, the works allow us to accompany the artists along their path. The use of wood in the early years and the regeneration of a profession that is apparently alien to the world of fine art was what definitively established the artistic collective and ended up naming the group Los Carpinteros.

“The dialogue between the precise insertion of wood polished to perfection and a screen painted with a masterful understanding of classical art creates pieces such as Marquilla Cigarrera that has the pictorial narrative inserted into the object. Buildings are also converted into objects: initially the emblematic constructions of Havana, such as the Focsa, are transformed into wooden furniture, full of empty drawers. Further on, international monuments are “replicated” using pieces of Lego in the VDNKh Toy. The game of scaling-down continues with the recreation of everyday tools as architectural structures: Casa-Pinza, for example, uses the shape of a pair of pliers as the foundation for the plans of a residential area.

Los Carpinteros have displayed their work in some of the greatest museums in the world, including the MoMA and the Guggenheim in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the TATE Gallery in London. They have also been displayed in Mexico, Japan, France and Switzerland amongst other countries.

Marco Castillo, Dagoberto Rodriguez and Alexandre Arrechea graduated from The University of Arts of Cuba. The two artists who currently make up Los Carpinteros divide their time between the Cuban capital and Madrid, Spain.


An exhibition presented in three parts

  • The Crafted Object

  • The Owned Object • Space-Object


CCBB Rio de Janeiro: May 3 rd to August 1st, 2017


Rodolfo de Athayde. Arte A Produções Ltda.


Banco do Brasil