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Cemex cement forms elephant centerpiece

World-renowned Argertine artist Adrián Villar Rojas sculpted a life-size elephant using 1.5 metric tons of Cemex portland cement for the centerpiece of the inaugural exhibition at the newly opened Serpentine Sackler Gallery in Kensington Gardens, London. Virtually filling the entrance to the gallery, the sculpture is over 370-cm high, 225-cm wide, extends 520 cm from trunk to tail, and carries a beam measuring 1,450 cm in length.

“The concrete clay mix is an essential material for my practice. The clay allows my work to appear fragile, with the cracks appearing naturally over time, while the cement gives it strength to remain durable for the period of the presentation. We have used many tons of Cemex cement to realize this exhibition,” Villar Rojas stated.

The artist worked in London for the past several months with builders, sculptors and engineers to develop the site-specific installation, entitled Today We Reboot the Planet. Villar Rojas took inspiration from the gallery’s brick-vaulted powder rooms in the center of the building (originally an ammunition store) to reimagine the architecture and original purpose of the new gallery. A key element to the installation, the gallery noted in a statement, is the implicit presence of another parallel site of production—a traditional brickworks in Rosario, Argentina. Alongside its daily raw production of bricks, it functions as a laboratory of artistic experimentation for Villar Rojas.

This marks Villar Rojas’ first exhibition in the U.K. His exhibition is one of two opening shows for the newly launched Serpentine Galleries, the other, Marisa Merz, which opened concurrently at the Serpentine Gallery.