Lapidarium | Gustavo Aceves
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Lapidarium is a work in progress by the mexican artist Gustavo Aceves,

which will grow with each installation during its world tour until its final exhibition

where it will finally present a total of 100 large-scale sculptures.

Every sculpture is unique, without any copies.

Each sculpture stands for a fragment of human history, creating a silent space of reflection available to us all.


Lapidarium was born as project in the waters of the Niger:

A canoe filled with men, women, and children, half Charon’s boat, half Trojan horse.

Lapidarium is a mute testimony. Silent like the silence of immigrants at the midway point.

Lapidarium is not an installation.

Each sculpture in Lapidarium is a death notice.

As a whole, they form an Obituary.

Lapidarium is not an Archaeology of human migrations,

no matter how much this might seem to be its cause.

Lapidarium is a rereading of this new lexicon that begins with the B for Barbarous and ends with the X for Xenophobia;

and between them, as an ignominious bridge, the S of the “Sans papiers”.

Lapidarium dates back to the day when humanity left

Africa. Lapidarium attests to the day when humanity continues to leave Africa.

The topography of Lapidarium is composed solely of water.

The Red Sea that parted for the Hebrews on their journey to the Promised Land, is now closed to the return of the displaced.

The Black Sea, witness to the migrations of the «Peuples de la mer» to the Near East, and who continue to drown today before massive indifference.

The Dead Sea, motionless, desolate. The sea where resurrection was invented for all humanity; today the sea of wanderers on their final days.

The Mare Nostrum. Finally, the other shore.


Gustavo Aceves


On March 22nd, 2014 the preview of Lapidarium “Work in Progress” was inaugurated in Pietrasanta:

The First Monumental Horse is exhibited as well as three Heads inside the Church of Sant’Agostino.

Five green patinated bronzes are exposed inside the main courtyard of the Cloister of Sant’Agostino.

A monumental Head in asphalt is exhibited inside the campanile.

Four horses are exhibited in the square of the campanile, in diverse materials such as iron, white bronze and traditional bronze patinated in black.

On May 10th, 2014, the second Monumental Horse in white bronze was presented, placed at the historic center of Pietrasanta.

On May 24th, 2014, the exhibition series Work in Progress closed with a live performance called Mare Nostrum,

a rescue of the third monumental sculpted horse, which was born up from the sea whilst 25 others were installed alongside the jetty of Tonfano Marina, Pietrasanta.


Berlin Exhibition ” Lapidarium – To overcome borders“

2 > 10 may 2015

2015 is the 70th anniversary of the liberation from the Nazi dictatorship, a reason for commemoration of the victims and a reflection about our political and cultural present in Europe and in the world by dealing with separation, borders and migration.

In celebration of “May ’45 – Spring in Berlin” the Mexican artist Gustavo Aceves realises an art project with life-sized horses on the Pariser Platz in front of the Brandenburg Gate. His sculptures are directly located in oppostion to the Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate, which symbolises German history with its many facets: Almost completely destroyed, its condition memorialises the end of the Second World War and marks the beginning of the division of the city, of Germany and Europe. Its late reconstruction during the 1990s stands as a symbol for the reunification, the development of Germany, of reconciliation and mutual understanding.

The Quadriga reflects the historical infirmity of the Quadriga and bears evidence of its own journey: Migration, asylum-seeking, immigration. The horses’ destination is unanswered. Effective actions are called for with regard to the diverse socio-political challenges of migration, immigration and integration in today’s world.



Arch of Constantine, Colosseum, Imperial Fora, Trajan’s Market
16th September 2016 – 19th March 2017

The exhibition is curated by Prof. Francesco Buranelli who commented:


“One of the aims of Lapidarium is to throw a spotlight on the suffering of the many millions of people living with the unspeakable hardship of diaspora, constantly moving in order to survive. In so doing, Aceves also invites us to look at our own difficult history in the West – and acknowledge that in part, our wealth and cultural achievements are derived from the exploitation of others.

Lapidarium is a monument to the “losers” in that history; a space to reflect on what we have already taken from those that now seek our help and a reminder not to repeat the horrors committed in the past.”

Lapidarium is Aceves’ attempt to create a dynamic and powerful response to one of the most pressing and divisive issues of our times – the migration crisis. The artist achieves this whilst forcefully portraying a catastrophe with a long historical context, with each sculpture in Lapidarium representing a moment in time from the ancient history of diaspora.

The installation is composed of some 43 individual sculptures, ranging from 3 to 8 meters and with some

works up to 12 metres in length, being an evolving work of large scale which has grown since it last exhibition in Berlin.

The Arch of Costantine

The Arch of Constantine – Installation of one Monumental sculpture in granite

The artworks are representations of the human diaspora, symbols that create a dialogue within the most ancient diaspora originating in Africa and gradually migrating around the world. We belong to a civilization that comes from Africa; this is why the first art piece is a tribute to this origin. Gustavo chose granite for this representation because inside, in the most natural part of the stone, is a vestige of a cave painting. At the division of the sculpture, the natural patina of the stone is not altered. The iron contained inside leads us inevitably to Altamira and to the cave paintings of the country of Dogon in Mali. This piece is where the exhibition begins.

The colossal black Brazilian granite horse was inspired by the artist’s own experience of living by the banks of the Niger River. In this work, the metamorphosis of the indigenous canoe in which the horse is anchored is already underway. Through the already visible muscles, viewers can catch glimpses of the thousands of scattered human skulls that merge with the animal’s body. Its head is on the ground and in its place an evidently tribal totemic figure removes its mask to reveal its humanity.

The Colosseum


The horse, made in green patinated bronze, is marked with a sequence of numbers on the skin. Obsessively and infinitely inscribed, the numbers recall the tagging of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps and, in a more general sense, the dehumanization of the many victims of migration; numbers, not humans, masses, not individuals.

A large sculpted totem with a primeval tapered silhouette emerges from the back of the monumental horse, symbolizing the artistic evolution sparked by cross-cultural pollination.. Aceves creates a work where every individual can take back ownership of their roots and history. It is a work of art that serves as a paradigm of our future, a silent space of reflection available to us all.

Mercati di Traiano


Each sculpture measures three metres in length. They are all made out of different materials, bronze, iron, marble, travertine, resin and wood, with the result of also having different colors: white (marble, travertine and white bronze), red (iron oxide), black (tar, Marquinia marble from Spain, and Brazilian granite) and green (bronze patina). They share the same subject: a horse or part of one, on top of a skeleton of a boat, a monumental horse “forced” onto a boat or rather the remnants of a boat, with absolutely no volumetric-structural relations between the animal and the planking.

The colors of the various materials used to create the horses have a definite meaning, since they are the most evident topographical reference to the specific seas crossed during history’s most significant migrations. The Mediterranean Sea, the Mare Nostrum of the ancient Romans or White Sea of the Turks and Arabs, the destination and means of salvation for so many refugees heading across to the other side, is assimilated to white horses. On the other hand, the red horse cast in iron oxide represents the Red Sea, which parted its waves for the Jewish people as they travelled to the promised land and which is now shut off against the returning “landless”. The black horse, made of simple, rough materials coming from the sea, such as pieces of wood and smooth stones daubed in the tar that pollutes our seas, evokes the Black Sea, a sea with deep rocky beds that witnessed the oldest migrations to and from the East. Lastly, the green horse cast in bronze and coated with a patina, as pale as death, gives shape to the Dead Sea, a waveless, desolate surface. This is the sea where the idea of the resurrection of all men was invented, and today, the sea of vagrants on their last day.



Gustavo Aceves (b. 1957, Mexico City) currently lives and

works in Pietrasanta, Italy. Aceves is known for his powerful

paintings of the human figure, which draw on classical

pictorial traditions whilst using the monumental scale and

strong colours common to Mexican murals. His work has

been exhibited around the world since the late 1970s

including the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico

City, the Venice Biennale and the Beijing Biennale, and is

held in major private and permanent collections including

Museo Memoria y Tolerancia, Mexico City and the

Vatican Museum, Rome. He was one of the youngest

artists in Christie’s and Sotheby’s new Latin American sales

in New York in the early 1990s.


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Berlin Exhbition „Lapidarium – To overcome borders“ 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the liberation from the Nazi -dictatorship: A reason for commemoration to the victims and a reflection about our political and cultural present in Europe and in the world by dealing with separation,......


On March 22nd, 2014 the preview of Lapidarium “Work in Progress” was inaugurated in Pietrasanta: The First Monumental Horse is exhibited as well as three Heads at the interior of the Church of Sant’Agostino. Five green patinated bronzes are exposed at the interior of the......



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Director of Communication
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