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Mexican art critic shatters $20,000 piece by resting pop can on it

Artist Gabriel Rico's work is shown before, left, and after it was destroyed, centre, by critic Avelina Lesper, right.
Artist Gabriel Rico's work is shown before, left, and after it was destroyed, centre, by critic Avelina Lesper, right. OMR Gallery/Instagram and Alfonso Miranda M/Twitter

Mexican art columnist Avelina Lésper is facing harsh backlash for taking her destructive criticism a little too far after she accidentally destroyed a glass sculpture she hated by resting a pop can on it.

Lésper has admitted to accidentally destroying the sculpture by artist Gabriel Rico on Saturday during Zona Maco, Mexico’s premier art fair held in Mexico City. The glass-and-stone sculpture featured several items suspended inside it and was worth an estimated US$20,000.

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Lésper says she left a pop can on top of the installation to show her disdain for it.

How to own expensive art for a fraction of the cost
How to own expensive art for a fraction of the cost

“The work shattered into pieces and collapsed and fell on the floor,” Lésper said in a video released by Milenio, the Mexican media group that publishes her art columns.

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“It was like the work heard my comment and felt what I thought of it.”

Rico’s work often proves divisive among critics, because he likes to suspend human-made and naturally occurring objects in glass for his installations.

The OMR Gallery, which hosted the show, condemned Lésper for her “enormous lack of professionalism and respect,” in a statement posted to Instagram.

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“Lésper coming too close to the work to place a soda can on it and taking a picture as criticism without a doubt caused the destruction,” the gallery wrote. It added that Rico’s work is in high demand right now.

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Artist Giovanni Emmanuel posted a video on Twitter showing people reacting to the piece’s destruction. The video shows several individuals staring at the shattered sculpture. A woman in the foreground swears and covers her face in shock.

WARNING: The following clip contains language some readers may find offensive. Discretion is advised.

Lésper says she offered the gallery a novel solution: leave the ruined piece as-is, to show its evolution.

The OMR Gallery didn’t buy that idea, so Lésper says she offered to replace the sculpture instead.

The incident triggered divisive reactions on social media. Some mourned the destruction of Rico’s art, while others applauded Lésper for tearing down something they felt didn’t belong in a gallery.

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“Avelina Lesper hates postmodern art,” one Twitter user wrote in Spanish. “Avelina Lesper breaks a piece by Gabriel Rico … and ends up unintentionally becoming a postmodern performance artist herself.”

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The gallery says it will consult with Rico before announcing next steps.

With files from The Associated Press