From the Artist Alex Queral
Cuban American artist Alex Queral carves phone-books to create these amazing portraits.
"I was out looking for wood to make a sculpture one day and I noticed a huge pile of phone books on the pavement. I suddenly thought they would probably make a pretty good material for carving, so I gave it a go"
"My fascination with heads began as an art student."
"For me, the human head was a natural choice of subject matter because of its inherent expressiveness."
"I carve the faces out of phone books because I like the three-dimensional quality that results and because of the unexpected results that occur working in this medium"
"The three-dimensional quality enhances the feeling of the pieces as an object as opposed to a picture."
"In carving and painting a head from a phone-book directory, I’m celebrating the individual lost in the anonymous list of thousands of names that describe the size of the community."
"In addition, I like the idea of creating something that is normally discarded every year into an object of longevity."
Queral carves up to two phone-book sculptures a month.
He begins each project by deciding on the face and doing a series of sketches to prepare. With a very sharp X-ACTO® knife, he then peels away the pages like the skin of an onion to reveal the portrait within.
Once the carving is complete, he will often apply a black wash to enhance the features and then seal the entire book with transparent acrylic paint, to make them durable and give them a glossy finish.
"Nearing the end of the carving and then suddenly having it ruined by a careless cut can be pretty crushing. You have to start all over again"
Alex Queral was born in Havana, Cuba in 1958. His family migrated to Mexico and then to Miami, Florida when he was a young boy. He received a B.F.A. from the University of Washington, Seattle and a M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. His works have been exhibited in Canada, England, Mexico and throughout the U.S. and are in the collections of Ripley's Believe It or Not!®, as well as Jerry Speyer and the Kohler family. His carved telephone books are exclusively represented by Projects Gallery. Several of his phone books are now available as high-resolution photographic images in a variety of sizes.