Artist's Retro-Futuristic Sculptures Are Made From Reclaimed Everyday Objects

Using donated objects, this sculptor is creating imaginative characters that seem to come right out of a science fiction movie.

sculptures with recycled objects Tomás Barceló Castelá

Tomás Barceló Castelá

Art allows its practitioners to express a great variety of things. It could be a socio-political message about the struggles of migrants, or an environmentally minded artwork that recycles electronic waste, and yet simultaneously says something about the ubiquity of it. Or perhaps it could be something as simple as upcycling fabrics to tell communal stories, or using reclaimed materials to beautify the urban landscape on a larger scale.

Whatever it is, art often has a message, or at least, can transport us to other worlds of the imagination. Looking quite fantastical and yet calling upon the classical tradition of sculpture of the ancient world, the works of French-Spanish sculptor Tomás Barceló Castelá seem to fit in this latter category.

Based out of Cala Millor, Mallorca, Barceló's unique work incorporates recycled everyday objects like razors, abandoned toys, or small appliances that no longer function.

sculptures with recycled objects Tomás Barceló Castelá
Tomás Barceló Castelá

With skill and a creative eye, Barceló then transforms these ordinary objects into sculptures that are colorful and eerily full of life, and yet also have a delightful touch of retro-futurism.

sculptures with recycled objects Tomás Barceló Castelá
Tomás Barceló Castelá

Using a combination of other materials like resin, acrylics, and metallic paint, Barceló is able to create futuristic characters that seem to come straight out of a science fiction movie.

sculptures with recycled objects Tomás Barceló Castelá
Tomás Barceló Castelá

As Barceló explains:

"I believe that sculpture is the art of presence. When you look at a painting, you look at a window opening to another world; the sculpture comes to look at you. Sculpture shares space and time with the viewer, and that is what makes it so powerful. That’s why I don’t try so much to tell stories as I try to create powerful presences, each in its own way. The fact that a small robot girl looks at you more intensely than you look at her, is fascinating to me."
sculptures with recycled objects Tomás Barceló Castelá
Tomás Barceló Castelá

In fact, Barceló's imaginative work has appeared in films like Asura, Maleficent II, and Dune 2021. But his personal practice has developed over the years as well, from his childhood obsession with building things out of LEGOs, clay, and cardboard, to his current focus on robot-like sculptures that recall the sacred sculptures of ancient Egypt and antiquity in general.

sculptures with recycled objects Tomás Barceló Castelá
Tomás Barceló Castelá

As Barceló tells it, his artistic journey originated from the academic study of film and conceptual art, centered around the philosophy of postmodernism. However, outside of the classroom, Barceló would find himself making trips to the library and "devour[ing] books on archaic sculpture." He says that:

"There was something in the Truth of ancient sculpture that allowed me a reprieve from the emptiness I felt in the classrooms. My fascination with hieratic sculpture has not ceased to grow. [..] For too long, I was focused only on the language of sculpture, and I forgot the content.
sculptures with recycled objects Tomás Barceló Castelá
Tomás Barceló Castelá

Gradually, it took Barceló many years to finally come to an epiphany, which freed him to explore themes that seemed unrelated but could be unified and integrated as a whole, in order to tell stories of other worlds and dimensions:

"It took 20 years of dead-end roads... to understand that I could use traditional language to tell the things that had always interested me. I reclaimed the films I shot in my imagination as a child, and played again. Suddenly, the two paths came together: the path of the search for formal rigor and sculptural language; and the path of fantasy, science fiction, and the creation of worlds."
sculptures with recycled objects Tomás Barceló Castelá
Tomás Barceló Castelá

Echoing that quest for new worlds are the intriguing titles of Barceló's works, which sound alien, yet familiar. Barceló strives to endow each piece with its own identity, while imagining them as fleshed-out characters starring in their own stories. To accomplish that, Barceló gives each work its own invented name, usually inspired by foreign languages that sound beautiful to his ear – hence names like "Kek Betsoebe," "High Priestess Aminthe," and "Oxi Sandara."

sculptures with recycled objects Tomás Barceló Castelá
Tomás Barceló Castelá

For Barceló, he continues to find a creative outlet through his sculptures, often having friends and family drop by to "donate" old objects. He then sorts and stores them away in his studio, until they can be reused in a new idea, thus transforming the mundane into something with a unmistakeable presence. To see more, visit Tomás Barceló Castelá's Etsy, Instagram and ArtStation.