Néstor Basterretxea: Form and Universe

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Curated by Peio Aguirre, the exhibition has been designed as the most exhaustive retrospective to date of the works of Néstor Basterretxea (Bermeo, Bizkaia, 1924), an ambition also evident in the catalogue published for the occasion.

In 2008, Basterretxea donated to the Museum all 18 sculptures from one of his essential works, theBasque Cosmogony Series, also one of the best-known groups of Basque sculpture from the second half of the 20th century.

Form and Universe provides a 60-year overview of an intensely creative career, during which Basterretxea has experimented with a wide range of techniques and forms of artistic expression. Featuring his evolution from the early paintings to his subsequent dedication to sculpture, the exhibition also takes a look at his incursions in film, industrial, graphic and furniture design and his architectural and urban development projects (which have remained on the drawing-board), photography, posters and writing. The idea is, therefore, to reconstruct what art critic Juan Daniel Fullaondo has called the “Basterretxea kaleidoscope”, as an expression of the artist’s ability to embrace opposing aesthetics, currents, styles and trends within his formal artistic idiom.

Although considered a leading renovator of Basque sculpture in the second half of the 20th century, Basterretxea actually began his creative activity as an advertising draftsman, before turning to painting as a self-taught artist. In the late 1950s he took to sculpture under the aegis of Jorge Oteiza. A founder member of Equipo 57, he also worked with the members of the Barcelona-based Equipo Forma. In 1961 Basterretxea was the only sculptor chosen to represent Spain at the 6th Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil.

In 1966, along with several other artists, Basterretxea founded the avant-garde Basque art group Gaur. At that time he also began to make films, including short films like Pelotari (1964) and Alquézar (1966), and in 1968 a full-length feature film called Ama Lur, all of them with Fernando Larruquert. In the 1980s, he devoted himself to site-specific public sculptures, and examples of his work can now be seen all over the Basque region and in a number of Spanish, American, Argentine and Chilean cities.

Featuring nearly 200 works, the exhibition is a contemporary and, at the same time, historic review of Basterretxea’s output and of his personal interpretation of tradition, couched in the artistic idioms of the avant-garde.

Source: Bilbao Fine Arts Museum