About the Artist: Lina Condes (b. 1988) is an American-Ukrainian artist whose sculptural work is recognizable for its use of materials that are conventionally thought of as industrial to form clever “stick figures” that convey emotions and mental states. Hailing from the countryside of Cherkasy City, Condes was born into a family of physicists and math professors, bestowing her with an early understanding of how to engineer and construct sculptures. Even in stainless steel, wood, or stone, her works manage to convey a sense of both physical and conceptual lightness; some of her sizable figures sport interesting and at times humorous “heads” made of items like a Poké Ball or a poppy seed bagel.
What You Need to Know: Based in Miami, Avant Gallery will be unveiling Condes’s newest body of work, “The Thinker” series, both in the gallery and concurrently at Art Miami, which runs November 29 through December 4, 2022. The series expands on a theme Condes has engaged with before: her 2021 sculpture was inspired by the canonic version by Auguste Rodin. Using the famed figure as a starting point, Condes’s work seeks to imagine what a Rodin sculpture might look like if it were made today—what elements would remain faithful to traditional art making, and which would embrace contemporary aesthetics.
The artist’s studio is in Kyiv, and the creation and exportation of this series has been a monumental undertaking for the artist as Ukraine continues to weather Russian attacks. Ongoing power outages due to the bombing of power plants hindered the physical creation of the works, since Condes relies on machinery and hand tools to form her sculptures. “On the day when the export of works was scheduled, Russia started to bomb Kyiv,” Condes said. The psychological toll of working in the midst of a war has also been difficult: “My team has to work with me on FaceTime under the sound of sirens and bombs. You never know when or where the missiles could hit. Every day could be the last.”
Why We Like It: Condes has found a signature conceptual fulcrum between the academic and the lighthearted, which can be seen across her oeuvre. In her practice, Condes frequently looks to and references Old Master artists—most apparently their art, but perhaps more importantly their ideas. Drawing from the rich history of figurative sculpture, Condes’s creations are rooted in tradition but decidedly contemporary, resulting in multilayered works that have a depth of meaning that extends past what is seen at first glance. This mode of creating art coalesces fully in works like and the series that will be unveiled by Avant Gallery later this month. Though the general composition recalls the work of Rodin, it also offers viewers the opportunity to consider through her interpretation of the work the function of sculptures’ materiality and more abstract notions of time and place in the making of art.
See Lina Condes in her studio and her work below.