‘”Javelina Girl (Illumianted Piñata No. 14).” All images © Roberto Benavidez, shared with permission

At once fantastically imaginative and embedded in tradition, the shimmering piñatas that comprise Roberto Benavidez’s body of work expand the boundaries of the conventionally festive object. The Los Angeles-based artist (previously) cuts skinny, triangular strips of material that he attaches to paper mache forms in the shape of birds, hybrid animals, and otherworldly creatures. His metallic works often address questions of identity—the artist speaks about this further in a Colossal interview—particularly considerations of gender and sexuality through the lens of his layered forms.

Benavidez’s gynandromorphs series, for example, reenvisions the phenomenon in common bird species by splicing male and female bodies together into a mirrored sculpture—three of these pieces will be on view through June 14 at The Loft at Liz’s in Los Angeles. He’s also continuing his renditions of Hieronymous Bosch characters and illuminated manuscripts, the latter of which includes the polka-dotted wildcat and portly, tusked “Javelina Girl” shown above. While drawing on centuries-old works, narratives, and myths in these series, each piñata is the artist’s reinterpretation of the classic iconography and themes into an inventive, contemporary form.

In the coming months, a few of Benavidez’s birds will be on view at Heron Arts, and the group exhibition devoted to piñatas that opened last fall at Craft in America will be traveling to the Mingei International Museum in San Diego. Follow news about upcoming opportunities to see his sculptures in person on Instagram.

 

“Illuminated Piñata No. 19”

“Scarlet Glossy Ibis (Halfbreed No. 1)”

“Spotted Wildcat Piñata (Illuminated Piñata No. 17)”

“Pug on Pig”

“Gynandromorph Phainopepla”

“Oyster or Snail? (Birdr No. 1)”

Detail of ‘”Javelina Girl (Illumianted Piñata No. 14)”

“California Quail”

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