Nano Lopez is a master sculptor that inspires both wonder and awe with his cast bronze sculptures. He was born in Botoga, Columbia on October 31st, 1955. Surrounded by the culture and spirit of Columbia developed a passion for art at an early age. At the age of 5, he was first recognized for his artistic talent by being awarded first place in his municipal school drawing contest. However, this was only the beginning. In high school, he began replicating some of the works or the works of great artists, such as Michelangelo that challenged and grew his artistic abilities. Following his secondary schooling, Nano attended Rembrants Academy and the National University of Bogota where he continued his studies of art and sculpture in both the classroom and the studio.
Soon after finishing his schooling, Nano traveled to Spain where he would work under renown sculptor Francisco Baron. While working for Baron he would carve marble and granite. He also crafted various sculptures made from steel on a monumental scale. During his time in Madrid, Nano began creating his own sculptures using bronze casing and help his first art show featuring his personal works. His success at this show encouraged him to further his own artistic skills and pursuits and he left Madrid to attend the Superior National School of Beaux Arts in Paris France to pursue his studies in new materials. It was here that he would discover the versatility of casting that would pave his career as a sculptor.
In 1981, Nano decided to return to Bogota to build his own studio to begin creating sculptures of his own with the methods of casting he learned in Europe. However, in 1983 he decided to leave his hometown again to further refine his craft in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. While there he began working under Manuel Izquierdo, the head of the sculpture department at the Pacific Northwest Collect of Art. His work here would gain him several other opportunities as a master sculptor with foundries all over the Pacific Northwest. This allowed him to continue to learn and improve his craft and learned to use patinas in metal sculptures, a skill that he would carry on to use in his own works a few short years later.
Several years after moving to the Pacific Northwest, in 1987, Nano opened his own sculpting business in Walla Walla, Washington. He specialized in creating models and reducing and enlarging maquettes to monumental sizes. His work led gained him recognition from many sculptures and foundries throughout the world, but Nano had found his own artistic inspiration.
In 2001, Nano built his own custom studio that he would use to create his own masterpieces. His studio is a representation of his own artistic creativity and monumental designs boasting vaulted ceilings with large skylights and over 8000 square feet of floor space. It is located among beautifully landscaped gardens along with a large man-made pond, which continues to feed him with ideas and inspiration from nature.
Today Nano no longer takes work enlarging the works of other artists and focuses on his own artistic creations. His ability to produce iconic and beautiful pieces has led to a large following that has allowed him to pursue his own works. His Iconic "Nanimals" bring the spirit of the Columbian Marketplace to the polarizing natural world, inspiring a childlike sense of imagination and wonder. His studies in various techniques in casting, patinas, and textures have led to a unique style of bronze sculpting unique to Nano. He continues to produce these beautiful sculptures today, which inspire us to experience and question the meaning of life and the balance of nature in the world today.
Nano’s inspiration for his sculptures comes to his experiences throughout his life. Nano was surrounded by family that supported and influenced his artistic passion. At a young age, Nano remembers watching his grandmother, who was also an artist, create sculptures and paintings. She encouraged Nano to pursue his artistic creativity throughout his life.
Nano also draws from his father's love of nature and his profession for inspiration. His father would take Nano on long nature retreats and to the Amazon river when he was a child, which he says created a strong connection in him to nature. His father also worked as a chemical engineer and was an entrepreneur himself. His father owned a copper sheeting factory that Nano would visit frequently as a boy. He loved the beautiful patterns created by sulfuric acid and cupric nitrate crystals and has implemented these patterns in his work today.
He's also developed his love for sculpture when he began creating sculptures out of the clay that was prevalent in the streets of the town he was raised in.
Later in life and after having achieved success as a sculptor Nano would continue to draw from his upbringing for his inspiration. He tries to display a childlike sense of wonder and imagination in each one of his pieces and the way a child sees the world in his art. Nano works to show the beauty of nature and the power of life in his sculptures. Drawing from his memories from the Columbian marketplace, Nano uses bright colors, pots, fruits, vegetables, birds, bees, geckos, pre-Columbian artifacts and other objects to show the balance of life between nature and the human world.
He also has a fascination with gears, which he frequently uses in his art to represent the man-made impact on the earth. He feels that gears symbolize past history, happening, continuity and connection between the world and our impact on it.
“The Transformation from clay to bronze has always been magical to me”
Nano uses the “lost wax” method of casting that was created and used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome thousands of years ago. This method allows Nano to capture extremely fine details in his bronze sculptures.
For Nano, the process of creating one of his masterpieces starts with a sketch. He uses this to play out ideas and start thinking about what he would like the sculpture to look like and represent.
For the next step of the process, Nano begins sculpting the design out of clay by using a wire figure. Most of the time here is spent getting the anatomy of the figure just right. Nano has to continue to work the clay until the base of the figure is perfect before he can start adding in the textures.
Next Nano begins adding textures to the clay. He uses many textures found in nature such as rocks, leaves, and tree bark. He also adds in man-made textures like gears to show the contrast between nature and the man-made world.
After all of the detail has been put into place different elements on the surface of the clay such as buttons, fish, letters, and numbers, which all help give Nano’s sculptures their unique look and feel.
Once the clay model has been finished the next step is to coat the model in silicon rubber. First, they brush a thin layer of silicon over the model and then use an airbrush to get the silicon into all of the fine details of the sculpture. This process is repeated 5 times and up to 3 days to complete.
Follow the silicon coating they put a mire mold over the figure that will help the silicon mold hold its shape. This mold is usually made of plaster or fiberglass which provides the rigidity. Once this mold has hardened, they open the mold and remove the original clay sculpture.
This new mold in now used to create the wax mold. Wax is poured into the silicon mold and rotated so that the wax coats the inside of the mold. This is repeated 3-4 times until the wax is about ¼ of an inch.
Once the wax has cooled they open the mold again and remove the newly created wax mold and tool the imperfections out of the wax mold. They then add the wax gates which will help hold the opening of the wax mold.
After this, they apply a slurry coating. A slurry is a liquid ceramic that the model is dipped in to create a ceramic mold of the original sculpture. First, the take the wax mold and dip it into a vat of slurry and then coat the slurry with sand. This process is repeated 5 times and takes about a week to create the rigid ceramic mold where the liquid bronze will be poured.
These ceramic molds are then put into a kiln to melt out the wax of inside the ceramic mold to prepare it for molten bronze. Once the wax has been removed they then add bronze to the inside of the sculpture, which is heated to 2100 degrees. The bronze is then left to cool for several hours and is then removed from the casting by breaking the outer shell with a pneumatic hammer.
Once the bronze is removed from the casting it is time to start assembling the pieces. First, the gates are cut off the bronze pieces using plasma torches and any pieces that were separated from each other are welded together. The welds are then tooled to make the welds disappear.
The patina process begins after the entire piece has been assembled. Applying a patina is a way to give coloration to the bronze and begins by applying a sulfur onto the entire pieces. This turns the entire sculpture black, which is then sanded down to reveal the bronze underneath. However, this leaves traces of black that emphasizes the texture. Then the bronze is sprayed with a golden dye that gives the sculpture its bright gold color. The acrylic paint is applied to the sculpture which gives the sculpture its bright colors. Heat is applied while painting to open up the pours in the bronze allowing the color to stick to the bronze. Finally, several coats of lacquer are applied to protect the sculpture from UV rays and lock in the color and felt is applied to the base of the sculpture.
Pricing and Buying an Original Nano Sculpture
After seeing one of Nano’s sculptures its hard not to want one for your own collection. There are many different sculptures available with a wide range of prices that will allow you to find a piece that fits your budget. Whether it is one of Nano’s “Nanimals” or one of his avant-garde contemporary sculptures there’s something for everyone’s collection.
At Dolphin Galleries, you can try out an original Nano Lopez sculpture risk-free. With our return policy, you can purchase a sculpture, have it delivered to your house, and try it out in your collection for 7 days. IF you don’t like it send it back and try something else. This allows you to find that piece that fits your collection perfectly!