Isaac Cordal’s Miniature Magic Moments in the Real World

Fairy tales mash fantastic with ordinary, playing with perceptions of both. Street Artist and public artist Isaac Cordal lives in these two worlds and finds one that is a waking dreamscape. The fastidious and attentive scene maker somehow brings his little cement people alive by placing them in the real world; creating a new context where his figures take on stirring, humorous, nearly profound qualities.

“This is a project I’ve been working on since 2006. I make small sculptures with cement and many times when I go out these small sculptures come with me. Public space has become their habitat,” explains Cordal.


Isaac Cordal. Survivors. Anvers. Belgium. 2011. (photo © Isaac Cordal)

Recalling our childlike ability to transform everyday locations into kingdoms, realms, domains, and enchanted lands, Cordal impeccably places vignettes into ordinary settings. His miniature gray mortar people are often being wronged by totally evil monsters, human and animal but are frozen for you to study the dynamics at play. The portraits that emerge of his somewhat battered and banal humans plodding through life occur in a multitude of scenes: Here we have a picnic. Over there we see a wedding, a funeral. Sometimes his sculptures are in a kitchen or in a living room. Other times they are outdoors waiting in line to go to work, to buy consumer goods, or to be ground like hamburger in the wheels of The Machine.


Isaac Cordal. Survivors. Anvers. Belgium. 2011. (photo © Isaac Cordal)

Most recently Mr. Cordal has created ‘survivors’ who inhabit an environmentally taxed and burdened world, continually expecting toxic fumes or airborne viruses to invade their lungs. His cement fairies in these urban settings are stoic protagonists of our eternal misadventures, progeny of our excess. The lucky passerby who stumbles upon his vignette may be moved by its stoicism, may pause at the effort of an artist who creates such a scenario in the middle of their everyday, and may smile at the wit.

Brooklyn Street Art: There is a distinct uniformity the appearance of your little people – is the uniformity a metaphor for conformist thinking and behavior?
Isaac Cordal: I make copies of many of my pieces using molds. By repeating the same model in series I manufacture a prototype that represents a collective identity. I am interested in representing prototypes that represent human beings in modernity. I try to do scenes that summarize recognizable behavior patterns.


Isaac Cordal. Survivors. Anvers. Belgium. 2011. (photo © Isaac Cordal)

Brooklyn Street Art: Sometimes the staged scenes have elements of comedy and light heartedness. Does the process feel like play for you?
Isaac Cordal: I think my friends have begun to be worried about me. I really take it seriously and I always am perusing the streets with an unusual amount of interest. A couple of days ago, I was climbing a wall and suddenly the wall collapsed; I was very lucky because nothing serious happened. It was a curious situation because my mother was visiting me and she was the person who was helping me with my installation. I felt as if I was a child in the wrong place.


Isaac Cordal. Survivors. Anvers. Belgium. 2011. (photo © Isaac Cordal)

Brooklyn Street Art: With clever placement, the figures interact in the man made and natural environment in a surrealist way.  Do you have any favorite surrealist painters?
Isaac Cordal: The world we have created is very surreal in itself. There are strong doses of surrealism in our society. Regarding Surrealism as a painting movement, I always liked Dali. Recently I quite liked the photo project The Architect’s Brother.


Isaac Cordal. Survivors. Anvers. Belgium. 2011. (photo © Isaac Cordal)


Isaac Cordal. “Naure of the Zone” Brussels. 2011. (photo © Isaac Cordal)


Isaac Cordal. “Naure of the Zone” Brussels. 2011. (photo © Isaac Cordal)


Isaac Cordal. “Naure of the Zone” Brussels. 2011. (photo © Isaac Cordal)


Isaac Cordal. “Another Cement Island” Brussels. 2011. (photo © Isaac Cordal)


Mr. Cordal’s new monograph Cement Eclipses: Small Interventions in the Big City will come out this spring, published by Carpet Bombing Culture.


To learn more about this book click on the link below:


Read our article on Isaac Cordal last September in The Huffington Post :

Little Cement Urbanites: Isaac Cordal’s Street Art Installations