Diminutive triumphal arches, human-sized Playmobil figures, and model prison quarters (both to scale and miniature) are a few of the many forms Hugo Orlandini’s work has taken. For categorization’s sake, we could call Orlandini a conceptual sculptor; however, his work incorporates layers of visual and social research culled from public events that richly complicate this subject matter. Orlandini approaches each work by digging deeply into an image from the news, a monument in a city park, or even into the banal nature of what makes a working-class kitchen unique. The artist notes: “I usually start from actual historical events or from situations that have had great impact and visibility. These occasions become meaningful for me as they give me the opportunity to question and reconstruct them, in order to dig below the surface information and the obvious, in order to offer a new perspective.”
Altering scale, by increase or decrease, is a method that figures into much of Orlandini’s work. Victoria (2013) comprises a fireplace-sized replica of the Arc of Victory in Madrid, which was constructed in the 1950s to commemorate Franco’s triumph during the Spanish civil war. The concrete remake, while detailed and scaled proportionally—and altered to include a contemporary roll gate so commonly used to shutter closed businesses—confronts the hubris the triumphal arc embodies by manipulating the size down to a more manageable human scale. Orlandini strives to reclaim the monument itself, and the moment in history it marks, as less-than-triumphal, shifting the focus to the inevitably forgotten and personally felt human scale of suffering and loss of the Spanish civil war.