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.
In recent years, the artist Asier Mendizabal (Ordizia, 1973) has completed a number of works that propose a critical approach to the legacy of Jorge Oteiza and the way of constructing the symbolism of his sculptural project. They also question the mechanisms of sculptural representation at the end of modernity.
In the exhibition produced by the Oteiza Museum in collaboration with the Local Council of Egüés (22 March – 3 June 2018), Mendizabal exhibits some of his earlier works and Incurvar. This project that lends its name to the title of the exhibition and responds to the Oteiza Museum’s invitation to exhibit in its rooms and stage the project currently on exhibition at the Alzuza Centre.
Mendizabal has focused his artistic work on the mechanisms of representation of symbolism, especially in reference to the formalization of political concepts through art and the way in which art delves into the processes that make up the representation and production of collective imagery. Accordingly, several of the artist’s projects have revised Oteiza as a paradigm of the aporias of modernity.
This exhibition includes projects such as Bentahandi, inspired by a formal reflection on Oteiza’s Par móvil and its resignification as a funeral stele, shown at the 2011 Venice Biennale. It also includes Una carta llega a su destino, which comes from the letter of protest addressed to the jury of the international contest for the creation of the Monumento al prisionero político desconocido, in which Oteiza participated and which was presented at Raven Row in London. The exhibition continues with references to Agoramaquia, a project for the 2014 São Paulo Biennial that takes as its starting point the monument Homenaje a César Vallejo, which Oteiza made in Lima in 1961, and ends with Incurvar. On this occasion, Mendizabal focuses his attention on the remains of works by Oteiza, fragments of mainly sculptural pieces and parts that bear witness to the residual and incomplete, apparently condemned to never embody the symbolic potential of the work of art.
Ultimately, these projects demonstrate the ability of Oteiza’s work to be present in that of other artists of later generations, not as a direct or formal influence, but as a legacy open to critical interpretation.
The exhibition also includes a monographic publication with texts and graphic material corresponding to the projects Una carta llega a su destino, Gurentza, Agoramaquia and Incurvar.
Asier Mendizabal (Ordizia 1973) is an artist based in Bilbao. His work is linked to the sculpture programme and uses various media and procedures, with writing as a common element. He has held individual exhibitions at institutions such as Raven Row in London; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Culturgest, Lisbon; Galerie Miroslav Kraljevic, Zagreb, Croatia; Carreras Mugica, Bilbao; DAE, San Sebastián; and MACBA, Barcelona. He has also taken part in collective exhibitions that include El arte y el espacio, Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa; the 31st São Paulo Biennial; A Singular Form, Secession, Vienna; Camera of Wonders, Centro de la imagen, Mexico DF; Whose Subject am I?, Kunstverein Düsseldorf; IllumiNATIONS, 54th Venice Biennial; Scenarios about Europe, GFZK, Leipzig; In the First Circle, Fundació Tapies, Barcelona; Às Artes, Cidadãos, Museu Serralves, Oporto; Després de la notícia, CCCB, Barcelona; Manifesta 5; and the Biennials of Limerick, Taipei and Bucharest.
The Oteiza Museum hosts a new exhibition project that reviews the work of José Ramón Anda (Bakaiku, 1948) and analyses the contributions to sculpture of one of the most significant contemporary artists, included in the second generation of artists linked to the movement of the so-called “Basque School of Sculpture”, which renewed the languages of art as from the 1960s.
The exhibition José Ramón Anda. Formal cause and matter presents a selection of a hundred works, focusing on the constructive processes of the artist and including sculptural works, small studies from the artist’s studio and pieces corresponding to his works of furniture. All his work expresses the relationships and links his pieces maintain with the main problems faced by sculptors in the last decades of the twentieth century and reconciles the classic references with those of the modern avant-gardes of art and architecture to locate and recognise in his landscape, social and personal environment, a sculpture singled out by time and the process of matter.
The work of José Ramón Anda reveals his admiration for the constructive renovators of abstract sculpture, from Max Bill and Brancusi to Chillida and Jorge Oteiza, with whom he had an intense personal and professional relationship, and the expressiveness and composition in the carving and modelling of the great classics, bringing together in his pieces aspects of geometry and the simultaneous perception of organicity he has applied to so many of his works.
This expressive constant has subtly modulated many of his artistic projects, which combine different surfaces in the same sculptural body, generating a very unique structural logic and poetic of his own, in which the forcefulness of the material combines with the delicacy of the treatment given to its surface, in its encounter with the spectator. In this way, solidity and spatial fluidity are articulated in his work as a permanent link that generates spaces of reflection and tension in a sculpture always subject to this expressive duality in a continuous process in which the organic and geometric coexist without conflict and to which sculpture bears witness.
This exhibition, curated by the artist Javier Balda and produced by the Oteiza Museum in collaboration with Kutxa Fundazioa and the Town Council of Egüés (21 June – 1 October) is complemented by a monographic publication, which includes notes on Anda’s sculptures by the project curator and recovers and incorporates as an annex a critical text written in 1996 by Pedro Manterola, former director and president of the Oteiza Foundation. The project is completed with an extensive educational programme.
José Ramón Anda is an artist with a long-standing professional career running from the mid-1970s to present day. He has staged numerous solo exhibitions and participated in over one hundred collective exhibitions. His most recent exhibitions include The Limits of Matter (Tecla Sala, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat – Ciudadela de Pamplona, 2008) and Forms Against Time (Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao, 2012). He is the author of many interventions in the public space in towns and cities that include Donostia, Pamplona, Tolosa, Zarautz, Zumarraga, Urretxu, Bakio, Galdakao, Bakaiku, L’Hospitalet, Sartaguda and Urnieta. His work can be found in the collections of Museo San Telmo, Museo de Navarra, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Internacional de la Resistencia, Fundación Salvador Allende, Gobierno Vasco, Colección La Caixa, Colección Kutxabank, Colección Caja Navarra, Universidad Pública de Navarra, Parlamento de Navarra and Artium, Vitoria.
In 1972, Jorge Oteiza was given one commission in particular: the creation of the monument to El Foguerer, a key character and representative of the Fogueres de Sant Joan, to be positioned in Plaza de España in Alicante. Commissioned by the local council, the work did not materialise, but Oteiza’s proposal offered a reflection on the meaning of art as activator and re-symboliser of public space, which remains in time.
The publication “Oteiza in Alicante. The Monument to El Foguerer, 1972” recovers the memorandum on this project, providing a full account and a wealth of unpublished documents that explain the story behind the failed intervention. Martín Noguerol and Joan Calduch are the authors of this work, which is the ninth title in the “Notebooks of the Oteiza Museum” collection. It has been published by the museum in collaboration with the City Council of Alicante and the MACA (Museum of Contemporary Art of Alicante).
In his project, in keeping with how he worked, Oteiza considered that the solution had to have an urban scale capable of responding in a way that would meet modern-day citizens’ need for spiritual enrichment. The aim was to create a new monumental centre to qualify the urban space, exceeding mere urban decoration with a sculpture. “The active sculpture is the entire plaza,” said the artist. “With the entirety of the plaza, the monument is an open and practicable structure of relations, spiritually coherent, symbolic, urban, civic and functional.”
For the author, the reference to the purification rites of water and fire, typical of the festivals that see off winter with the arrival of the summer solstice, extended the context of the project. According to Oteiza, “Probably, since Neolithic times, these fires respond to the rites of purification and represent the ritual death of winter and the triumph of day overnight.” He described his project as follows: “The thematic core is day and night. A vertical element symbolising fire; the sun as victor over night. This vertical sign has a large circular hole in the top. Night as a horizontal element, plastically articulated, vanquished, crossing over itself at the bottom, with four unequal holes, symbolising the four phases of the moon and standing as the origin of the appearance of water, like four fountains of the death of night and our rites of purification.”
Jorge Oteiza formed a team with Alicante artists (Adrián Carrillo as the protagonist), coordinated by Ernesto Contreras, art critic. The team’s work had characterised some of Oteiza’s most important proposals, seeking to give his works a dimension that exceeded the strict universe of sculpture, moving forward in quality and integrating in the design of the urban space. It is important to remember that his collaboration with architects and town planners has been essential in some of his most ambitious proposals, such as his participation in the refurbishment of the Basilica of Arantzazu (1951-1969), the tender for the Monument to Batlle y Ordoñez in Montevideo (1958-1960), and his project for the cemetery of Ametzagaña in San Sebastián (1984).
Differences were soon to appear between what the City Council expected and his personal way of understanding art as public work. The corporation simply wanted to solve a problem of urban viability, decorating the work with a sculpture that would be liked by the people and highlighting El Foguerer as the emblem of the festival. However, Jorge Oteiza was interested in problems concerning the creation of new modern monumental centres to qualify the city, as proposed in international architectural forums in the mid-20th century. The differences between the unlimited expectations of the local corporation and the artist’s global vision prevented the culmination of the monument to El Foguerer as conceived by the sculptor.
After a number of incidents, at the beginning of 1973, the unbridgeable gap between the sculptor’s ideas and municipal interests was confirmed. Jorge Oteiza’s complex and ambitious idea of creating a monumental urban centre on Plaza de España was reduced to simply doing a “sculpture”. Oteiza had travelled to Alicante on several occasions and finally rejected the commission of a monument that did not follow his ideas.
This work analyses in detail the entire process of the conception of the work and the ups and downs that led to the rejection of the commission. Once again, Oteiza’s commitment was complete, to the point where if he were not to be commissioned with the work, “they could use, if they wanted, his ideas, albeit not his name”.
Joan Calduch Cercera, holds a PhD in Architecture from Universidad Politécnica de Valencia and is Professor of Architectural Composition at Universitat d’Alacant. Martín Noguerol García is a plastic artist and Deputy Director of the Department of Art and Visual Communication “Eusebio Sempere” of the Alicante Institute of Culture “Juan Gil-Albert” of the Provincial Council of Alicante (1999-2003).