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sculpture network Experience: PAÍS VASCO – NAVARRA RIOJA 7 to 10 November, 2011

Photo: Rainer Bolliger

Prior to 2011 International Forum, the Experience programme route took us through the Basque Country, Navarre and La Rioja’s art and sculpture. A trip from the traditional to contemporary art of these locations. Caserio Garro, on the Santiago Road, was our starting point. Landscape, live “txalaparta” music and our generous host, sculptor UBE - Jose Angel Uberuaga (Gernika, Vizcaya, 1961) introduced us to Basque hospitality. UBE welcomed us with an array of recent works and installations, specially installed for our visit, concerning current concerns and passions.

Caserío Garro, Photo: Rainer Bolliger th

Jose Angel Uberuaga, Photo: Rainer Bolliger

On the road to one of the 20 Century’s most nteresting religious architectural works, we feasted on Aizkorri-Aratz Nature Park’s powerful landscape. Arantzazu, meaning spine in Basque, is reflected on the outside of the architecture of Sainz de Oiza’s work. The basilica includes the Apostles frieze by Jorge Oteiza, doors by Eduardo Chillida, frescos by Nestor Basterrechea and the impressive contemporary alter piece by Lucio Muñoz, who made no concession to decor.Arantzazu transmits Basque character and reveals an era in recent history which generated a sense of uneasiness amongst the foreigners, previously unaware of this history. However, after our next visit, to Fundación Oteiza which gave further enlightening information, the artists oeuvre and his context were comprehended better. After lunch, we continued to La Rioja, to Swiss company, Wurth’s Foundation headquarter, in the North of Spain. Miquel Navaro’s 7m sculpture Libro de Calibres welcomes visitors to the industrial estate “El Sequero”. This piece is only one of the Wurth collection’s pieces on display in their gardens. Basílica de Aránzazu, Lucio Muñoz Photo:Rainer Bolliger


We visited the exhibition “75/65 El Coleccionista, la empresa y su colección”, a selection of 75 works acquired throughout current owner Reinhold Würth’s life. A commemoration of the company’s 65 years existence, 40 years of collecting art and 20 years of exhibiting. A run through history, including works by Picasso, André Masson, Jean Arp, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Antony Caro, Richard Deacon, Anselm Kiefer or Jaume Plensa, amongst others. Bodegas del Señorio de Otazu was the next stop. We Slipery when wet, 2004, Richard Deacon. enjoyed their wines, architecture and contemporary Collecíon Würth España, Photo: Rainer Bolliger Spanish sculpture collection, including works by Martin Chirino, Baltasar Lobo, Xavier Mascaró or Manolo Valdés, among others. We reached Pamplona late at night. Our route next day started with a visit to sculpture network member Carlos Ciriza’s (Estella, Navarra, 1964) extensive 25 years of sculpture exhibition El paso del tiempo a través del movimiento, in the “Sala de Exposiciones Conde de Rodezno”. During this “meet the artist” and surrounded by his works, Carlos spoke about his oeuvre and answered numerous participants’ questions. From Pamplona on to Egües, home of the Oteiza Foundation, established in 1996 as part of sculptor Jorge Oteiza’s (Orio, Guipuzcoa, 1908 – San Sebastián, 2003) legacy. The foundation fuses old, traditional “caserio” Photo: Rainer Bolliger architecture – the artist’s home and workshop – with architect Sainz de Oiza’s extension, built to house the collection. A concrete block which dialogues, incomparably with Jorge Oteiza’s work and the surrounding landscape. We were guided and enlightened on the sculptor’s complex and transcendental oeuvre by the foundation’s sub-director Pablo Huércanos and Aitziber Urtasun. From his early first works through to his last pieces: sculptures, maquettes, ceramic pieces made during his sojourns in Argentina and Columbia, Oteiza’s writings and his wonderful “chalk laboratory”. A short drive took us to Centro Huarte, a contemporary art centre where we enjoyed Javier Muro’s work (Pamplona, 1968) guided by the artist himself and the centre’s Director Javier Manzano. After lunch in Abaco, Huarte Art Centre’s restaurant, we went to sculptor José Ramón Anda’s (Bakaiku, Navarra, 1949) studio. Anda sculpts wood with exquisite subtlety, endowing enormous, dead, centennial trees, collected in the nearby forests, with new life. We were also able to see hundreds of maquettes of Anda’s numerous public works, made in bronze, steel and concrete. Fundacíon Oteiza, Photo: Rainer Bolliger

From Pamplona to Vitoria to visit Artium, Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo where one is greeted by the work of Javier Pérez (Bilbao, 1968) Un pedazo de cielo critsalizado, 2001.Besides the permanent collection we were also able to see, 2008 Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas (National Art Award) Esther Ferrer’s exhibition En cuatro movimientos, curated by Rosa Olivares. Installations, videos, documented performances and objectual works are articulated in four blocks around the concepts of time, infinite, repetition and presence. Un pedazo de cielo cristallizado, 2001, Javier Lopez Photo: Artium


We ended the day with dinner at Cube Artium at the museum, where, once again, we enjoyed wonderful local gastronomy.

Departamento de Sanidad del gobierno vasco, Coll-Barreau arquitectos, 2008. Bilbao

Fuente de niebla, Juan Asensio, 2008, Bilbao Photo: Rainer Bolliger

Next day, our last leg was in Bilbao. A tour of Bilbao’s public sculpture and architecture, designed and guided by Iciar Rodríguez, responsible for Bilbao Arte’s Cultural Programs – the finishing touch to this extensive itinerary through Basque art and sculpture.

Amparo López Corral


sculpture network Experience Bilbao