Jorge Oteiza’s sculptural work for the facade of the Basilica at Arantzazu was the artist’s most important public work. It represents one of the key moments in modern art and architecture, and has become a symbol of the renewal of the religious aesthetic in the twentieth century. Fifty years after the work was completed, a new exhibition entitled “Oteiza and the Arantzazu Statues, 1950-1969” takes a fresh look at the project. The show includes over 200 pieces related to the project, many of which are being displayed to the public for the first time.
The show is being promoted by Fundación Museo Jorge Oteiza, Fundación Arantzazu Gaur and the Franciscan Monks of Arantzazu. Its purpose is to examine and publicise the artistic and cultural significance of the ambitious project at the basilica of Arantzazu. The exhibition is being staged in two venues, the Oteiza Museum (19 June-27 October 2019) and Grandiaga Topagunea, the headquarters of Fundación Arantzazu Gaur (28 June -27 October of 2019). The programme, which will include a number of actions at different venues between 19 June and 27 October 2019, is being sponsored by the Provincial Government of Gipuzkoa’s Department of Arts, Tourism, Youth and Sports and Kutxa Fundazioa, with collaboration from the Basque Government’s Department of Arts and Linguistic Policy, Acción Cultural Española (AC/E), Egüés Town Council, Ulma Fundazioa and Asociación Arantzazu Adiskideak.
The exhibition will analyse the various stages in the evolution of the project and will feature over two hundred sculptural studies in plaster, most of which are being displayed to the public for the first time. The development of Oteiza’s statuary provides an insight into his conceptual and symbolic quests and the evolution of his sculpture, in which he centred much of his aesthetic deliberations on the identification of space and vacuum with the spiritual. It also facilitates a better understanding of the capacity of art to generate new symbolic images and project them to society. Oteiza and the Arantzazu Statues, 1950-1969 examines the development of the sculptural project and its links to the architectural. It also considers the ban by ecclesiastical authorities on installation of the piece and shows some of the solutions proposed before the sculptor finally managed to erect the ensemble in 1969. A large number of contemporary artists—including Carlos Pascual de Lara (later replaced by Lucio Muñoz), Néstor Basterretxea, Eduardo Chillida, Xavier Álvarez de Eulate, Lucio Muñoz, Xabier Egaña and Jorge Oteiza himself—were involved in executing the Arantzazu project, based on an architectural design by Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oíza and Luis Laorga.
The exhibition will be held at the headquarters of the organising institutions. It will give viewers a chance to understand the main aspects of Oteiza’s design for the facade of the basilica and some key moments in the development of the project. The show is being curated by Elena Martín, curator at the Oteiza Museum. It has been designed by Javier Balda and includes a sound intervention especially created by artist Xabier Erkizia, based on original images shot by Oteiza of the process of installing the piece at Arantzazu. The works come from the Oteiza Museum and Arantzazu Frantziskotar Anaidia collections, the Sáenz de Oiza Archives and private lenders, with collaboration from the Elías Querejeta Film School.
To coincide with the exhibition, a magazine-type publication, Oteiza in Arantzazu is being presented, which provides a visual and educational account of the development of the project. The publication includes numerous graphics, along with texts by Elena Martín and J. P. Huércanos. A later publication, Oteiza and the Arantzazu Statues, 1950-1969, will take a complete and extensive look at Oteiza’s project, including all the different agents involved and key moments in the undertaking through to the final installation of the facade. The book is based on research by the author, Elena Martín, for her PhD thesis of the same name.
Exhibition at the Oteiza Museum
19 June- 27 October 2019
The show at the Oteiza Museum will focus on the various stages in the evolution of the artistic process and will feature a wide range of sculptural studies in plaster from the artist’s bequest at the Oteiza Museum, most of which are being displayed to the public for the first time. The exhibition analyses key features of the final design and possible solutions considered by the artist before final installation of the facade, “a receptive space, a metaphysical insulator”, as Oteiza himself called it. It analyses episodes in the process, such as the sculptural concept applied by Oteiza at Arantzazu, his approach to the mural relief, the definition of the Frieze of the Apostles and the iconography of the Virgin as well as key aspects in the definition of the spiritual space. The show concludes with a timeline, including numerous graphics.
Exhibition at Gandiaga Topagunea
28 June- 27 October 2019
The second exhibition in the project will open on 28 June at Gandiaga Topagunea, the headquarters of the Fundación Arantzazu Gaur. It will provide a chronological account of Oteiza’s intervention at Arantzazu, from the beginning of construction of the work in 1950, to the final installation in 1969.
Key features of the project will be explained in chronological order, with the aid of nearly 40 works (from the Oteiza Museum and the Monastery at the Arantzazu Sanctuary/Basilica) and numerous documents, photographs, press cuttings and audio-visual resources from the Arantzazu Sanctuary archive and the Oteiza Museum Studies Centre. The timeline will start with an analysis of the architecture and sculpture at the outset of the project, the key aspects of the revival of religious sculpture, the commission itself, the halting of the artistic work, and Oteiza’s eventual return to Arantzazu to complete the project.
On 21 September, Gandiaga Topagunea will host a commemorative act to mark the 50th anniversary of the installation of Oteiza’s work on the facade of the Basilica at Arantzazu.
A round table panel of experts will analyse the importance of Arantzazu in its historical context.
The session will conclude with the launch of the publication Oteiza and the Arantzazu Statues, 1950-1969 and a visit to the facade of the basilica at Arantzazu to analyse the key aesthetic aspects of this artistic complex.
Artist María Sánchez brings her own perspective on the universe of Jorge Oteiza in Agiña, a 14-minute audio-visual piece, in which she examines the idea of abandonment, failure and the ultimate meaning of art and creation, as it relates to “Tribute to Father Donostia”, created in 1959 by Jorge Oteiza and architect Luis Vallet in the natural surroundings of Agiña.
The piece is being presented at the Oteiza Museum, where it will be screened from 7 June to 29 September 2019. It forms part of the Hazitegia programme, promoted by the Museo Oteiza and the Huarte contemporary art centre to generate new spaces for reflection on the work of Jorge Oteiza from the perspective of contemporary creation, and enjoys backing from Fundación Caja Navarra and Fundación La Caixa.
The project is based on the artist’s meeting with a group of fishermen whom she invited to join her in a walk up Mount Agiña, in the townland of Lesaka. Their route takes them past the Agiña megalithic site, containing prehistoric cromlechs, tumuli and dolmens, to the site of the “Tribute to Father Donostia” (1959). This work comprises a sculpture by Jorge Oteiza and a chapel designed by Luis Vallet, which takes the form of a ship beached in the midst of the landscape. Entering into a dialogue with the Neolithic cromlechs, the principal elements of the work—with which María Sánchez seeks to explore the figure of Jorge Oteiza—are nostalgia, emptiness, silence and chance.
María Sánchez first became interested in the sculptor when researching her thesis on artists who gave up their creative work at an early stage in their lives. After exploring Oteiza’s poetic work and reviewing the documentary archive at the Oteiza Museum, Sánchez visited the site at Agiña and decided to focus her project on this meaningful environment. “My idea was to bring Oteiza symbolically down off his pedestal and examine him from the field of the personal. After visiting Agiña, I became interested in it as a hidden place, with an element of mystery and I began to work with it, starting from the idea of abandonment and failure”, she explains.
Luis Vallet’s chapel, designed to recall a ship that has run aground on the landscape, provided the metaphorical content that led to her encounter with the group of fishermen. “I was interested in experiencing the situation of the boat embedded in a field, a vessel out of context and out of service, which meant that it was fated to remain forever incomplete. All of these elements allowed me to connect it to the idea of failure linked to Oteiza and to the ever-incomplete function of art.”
The audio-visual piece is being screened on the second floor of the museum. It relates to the sculptural piece ‘Tribute to Father Donostia’, created by Jorge Oteiza in 1959 as part of his intervention in the space at Agiña.
The work of María Sánchez primarily involves interventions in public and intimate spaces, which she documents using visual resources such as photography and video. She was selected for the Encontro Artistas Novos, Argentina (2016) and the International Luis Adelantado Call for Young Artists (2011), won the Fundación Santander Prize for Artistic Output (2014) and was awarded a Roberto Villagraz International Fellowship (2011). In 2014 she published Mieldeabeja, selected at PHE 15 as one of the best photo books of the year.
Exhibition and publication: Macla, mamua, bismuto, vicario.
Artists: Karlos Martínez B., Javier Arbizu.
An Oteiza Museum production involving the Contemporary Art Centre of Huarte and the collaboration of Fundación “la Caixa”, Fundación Caja Navarra, Egüés Town Council and Caniche Editorial.
Oteiza Museum. 27 July – 30 November 2018
The Oteiza Museum presents the exhibition project Macla, mamua, bismuto, vicario, an exhibition made expressly and based on Oteiza’s work by the artists Karlos Martínez B. and Javier Arbizu for the Alzuza Centre, constituting the first intervention on the Hazitegia (seedbed) programme.
This first intervention has been developed by the Oteiza Museum and the Contemporary Art Centre of Huarte and comes from the desire to combine the production and exhibition areas at both centres to generate new scenarios for reflection on Jorge Oteiza’s work from the viewpoint of contemporary creation.
The project began with the research and production residency both artists completed last year at the Huarte Centre. The residency allowed the authors to define a project that materialised in an initial intervention at the famous Casa Huarte in Madrid, a building dating from 1966 by the architects Corrales and Molezún. The project was developed in a single day on 17 February 2018 and produced by Caniche Editorial.
Macla, mamua, bismuto, vicario now continues with the exhibition hosted by the Oteiza Museum between 27 July and 30 November 2018. The project involves the collaboration of Fundación “la Caixa” and Fundación Caja Navarra, as part of the Innova Cultural programme, and the Town Council of Egüés.
The starting point of this project is the idea of macla (double), associated with the series of works so titled by Oteiza, based on the merger or encounter of two or more volumes and activated by the relationship between their parts. From that moment, this intervention proposes a particular way of associating sculpture with object through subtle interventions that interfere with the very characteristics of materials and objects to generate a new repertoire of meanings that create an unrestricted bond with the Museum space, the constructive modes of Oteiza’s work and the consideration of sculpture as an ever-changing process.
The presence of bismuth, a mineral that crystallizes in concentric, geometric forms, is one of the main lines of the proposal, which works on the idea of the sutured body and the question of the double as the essence of a ‘permanently unsatisfied’ sculpture, as defined by Jorge Oteiza.
The project is not conceived as a mere exhibition of works, since the different pieces (a total of 17) make up one single intervention, shown in different areas of the Oteiza Museum, including the building exterior. Each one is conceived as an activating element of the space in the centre and a catalyst of sculpture through the use of contemporary materials and compositional processes.
The intervention is completed with a publication under the same title that includes a complete visual tour of the two interventions and is complemented by a text by Rosa Lleó, curator and director of the Green Parrot Platform.
The Oteiza Museum recovers the Interpretations programme with the project titled Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars created at the centre in Alzuza by the artist Imanol Marrodán.
It is the tenth intervention in this programme and seeks to generate a meeting point with Oteiza’s work. It is staged on the second floor of the museum together with the permanent exhibition. The exhibition project is to run from 1 June to 30 September and has been produced by the Oteiza Museum in collaboration with the Town Hall of Egüés.
Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars is an art project that takes its name from a secret document from 1979, attributed to the Bilderberg group, in which they analyse the start-up of various tools designed to ensure social control using apparently unnoticeable strategies. With this starting point as a reference, the author uses his project to propose activating “the practical applications and utilities of contemporary creation as one of the driving forces essential to constructing the future of the social, political and economic community, contributing to determine its changes and evolutions.”
Accordingly, he shows a set of seven different works made between 2011 and 2018. They include four sculptures called artefacts, the result of combining industrial technological elements with organic elements.
The overall project is completed with a large diagram titled Personal Project, contextualising the reflections and connections that make up the project’s structure, together with the intervention titled Reveal and Rebel. Finally, the project includes the work Snow on the Top of El Anboto, which is being exhibited and will be on show during this time in a freezer. It refers “extremely to the concept of the disoccupation of space, as it was understood by Oteiza“.
His intervention in the cycle “Interpretation” follows that of other artists that include Pedro Salaberri, José Miguel Corral, Iratxe Montero, David Rodríguez Caballero, José Ignacio Agorreta, Koldo Sebastián, Manu Muniategiandikoetxea, Florencio Alonso and Pedro Osés.
Imanol Marrodán (Bilbao, 1964) is an interdisciplinary creator and investigator. Among other facets, his work involves a critical approach through different events related to art and contemporary thought as part of his personal creative project. His work has been exhibited in various countries and contemporary art shows and he is the creator of the cultural platform-environment AIR: Arte Independiente Revelador (Revealing Independent Art). He has exhibited his work in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Korea, Argentina, Chile, Switzerland and the United States. His work can be found in various collections at museums and public institutions, together with other permanent and ephemeral interventions and sculptures in public places.