Sebastián (born Enrique Carbajal González on November 15, 1947) is a Mexican sculptor best known for his monumental works of steel and/or concrete in both Mexico and abroad. These include a number of “gate” sculptures such as the Gran Puerta a México in Matamoros, Tamaulipas but his most famous sculpture is the “Caballito” located in downtown Mexico City. His works are found in various cities outside of Mexico, such as Japan where two are now used as city symbols.
Sebastián was born Enrique Carbajal González on November 15, 1947 in Santa Rosalía de Camargo, Chihuahua in northern Mexico. He knew he wanted to be an artist since he was a small child. He lived in Chihuahua until he began studying in the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Mexico City in 1964. When studying in Mexico City, he survived by working at restaurants and buying clothing to sell it for a profit in Chihuahua. Heavily influenced by the work of Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso, he won first place in the 1965 Annual Exposition of the National Plastic Arts School at UNAM.
He began his career near the end of the 1960s. After completing his formal studies he continued his work with short-lived schools and movements such as the "Salon Independiente". He put on his second individual exposition, where he displayed ostensibly simple paper carton works that he called "desplegables" (folders). These smaller works became the base of ideas for his later monumental works made with tons of iron and concrete. Since 1968, he has had over 120 individual exhibitions of his work in Mexico, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, England, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Canada, Finland, the US, France, Japan, Switzerland and Venezuela. His work has been shown in the main museums of Mexico including the Museo de Arte Moderno, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Museo Tamayo, the Museo de Ciencias y Artes of UNAM, the Palacio de Minería and the Museo de San Ildefonso in Mexico City. In 2012 he held an exhibit at the Museo de Bellas Artes of the State of Mexico in Toluca. He has served as a jury member at the North American Sculpture Exhibition in Colorado (1986, 1991), the Concurso Nacional and Triennial Americana de Escultura en Madera in Argentina (1993) and the Art Biennial of Alexandria (2001).
Sebastián is best known for his monumental sculptures in steel and/or concrete in urban settings, of which he has done over 200 in various parts of the world. These works are mostly based on smaller earlier works such as Leonardo 4, Durero 4 and Brancusi 4. In Mexico, his best known monumental sculpture is officially called “Cabeza de caballo” (horse’s head) but is generally referred to as the “Caballito” (little horse), located in downtown Mexico City. Other works appear in Nuevo León, Tabasco, Morelos, Guerrero, Chiapas, Michoacán and other states. These include “gate” structures such as the Puerta de Torreón, Puerta de Chihuahua and the Gran Puerta de México in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Other monumental sculptures include the El Torreón al Porvenir for Torreón 100th anniversary and the Los Arcos del Milenio in Guadalajara for the nation’s 200th anniversary of its independence. His 2007 work with the Ruta Escultórica del Acero y el Cemento (Sculpture in Steel and Cement Route) in the State of Mexico was somewhat controversial in that he stated he would not receive any money for his work but charged the state over seventeen million pesos for materials and workmen’s labor.
Sebastián first award for his work was in 1965 at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas annual exhibition while he was still a student, followed by placing first at the same school’s Exposición Annual de Mobilario y Escultura in 1967. During his career, these were followed by first prize at the Primera Bienal de Arte in Morelia, Michoacán (1974), first prize at the Concurso Nacional de Escultura Monumento a las Nacionalidad Mexicana sponsored by INAH in Mexico City (1981), the UNAM Medal for his participation with the Centro de Espacio Escultórico in Mexico City (1983), the Prize of the Jury at the International Graphic Biennial in Norway (1984, 1992), the Asociación del Claustro de Sor Juana Medal (1984), the Tomás Valles Vivar Prize in Chihuahua (1985), the Superior Prize at the Competition and Homage to Henry Moore at the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Japan (1987), the Bronze Award from the ABC Ashi Broadcasting Corporation in Osaka (1990), the Bronze Prize from the International Painting Triennial in Osaka (1990), the Sol Caracol Prize from the Instituto Superior de Arquitectura y Diseño Industrial at the University of Chihuahua (1992), the Grand Prize and Gold Prize at the A-ORC 200 in Osaka (1992), the Japan Silver Prize at the Sculpture Triennial in Osaka (1992), the Mainichi Broadcasting System Prize at the International Painting Triennial in Osaka (1993), the Kinki Nippon Railway Prize at the Osaka Sculpture Triennial (1995, 1998), the Moquette Awards at the Fifth Kajima Sculpture Contest in Tokyo (1997), the Lifetime Achievement Award from RGI Global Marketing in Detroit (1998), the Medaille de la Ville de Paris in France (1999), the Torch of Friendship Appreciation Award in San Antonio (2002), the Jerusalem Prize from the Zionist Federation of Mexico and the City of Jerusalem (2005).
While Sebastián has done architectural design, painting, art objects, furniture design, jewelry, costume design, set design and multimedia shows, he is best known for his sculpture. His work is considered to be unique in Mexico and Latin America. Much of his style can be traced to his second individual exhibition where he displayed ostensibly simple paper carton works that he called "desplegables" (folders). These seemingly small works became the base of ideas for his later monumental works made with tons of iron and concrete. Much of his sculptural work has kinetic appeal even if the parts do not move. Geometric concepts are also very important to his work.
The Fundación Cultural Sebastián was founded in 1997 with Sebastián as first president as a non-governmental cultural organization to promote Mexican cultural values, especially the arts. It has hosted exhibitions by young artists, concerts, dance recitals, visual arts and literary events and more. It also promotes techniques to preserve artworks to avoid their loss in the future because of expensive renovation work. It also sponsors a number of artistic competitions on the national level as well as in the states of Quintana Roo and Colima .