Spain's most beautiful sculpture parks
In April 2019, the Chillida-Leku-Museum in the Basque Country reopened its doors after extensive renovation with a new café and shop, improved barrier-free access and parking. The eleven hectares of land and the old 16th century farmhouse fascinated and inspired Eduardo Chillida and his wife so much that they made the dream of showcasing his sculptures in one place come true. Chillida was born in San Sebastián in 1924. Not far from here is the sculpture park, whose name Leku means land in the Basque Language.
The "sculpture families", as the artist himself lovingly called his series, vary in material from iron, Corten steel, pink granite to paper. The visitor walks through the show of Chillida's works from the late 1940s to the 2000s like he is walking through a forest, one work resembling a mighty tree like the next, each special and yet part of a big whole. After the artist's death in 2002, his family and the Hauser & Wirth Gallery protected his legacy and honored him in the newly opened park. In the farmer’s house, which is considered a symbol of Chillida's Basque origins, smaller and more fragile works can be discovered. In order to capture the magic of the Basque Country itself, you only have to go and enjoy the harmony of nature and art in the world of Eduardo Chillida – every Wednesday to Monday.
Exactly at the other end of Spain – deep in the south of Andalusia in Vejer de la Frontera, Cádiz, the NMAC Foundation has set itself the task of staging contemporary art in perfect harmony with nature. NMAC supports contemporary artists by commissioning them to create works of art for the extensive 30 hectares of land. The more than forty landscape-related projects mostly show the art of artists who have never been exhibited in Spain before.
Art and nature have been intertwined since ancient times. In Plato's cave parable, art is understood as an imitation of nature, in Romanticism nature is the trigger and at the same time the place of reflection of art, Art Deco lets natural forms grow in works of art – both are inseparable, like idea and reality. Even today, in times of global warming, nature becomes the subject of art. At NMAC Foundation, this topic is reflected in the program. Artists like Olafur Eliasson, James Turrell and Marina Abramović and many more show their works between pine forests and old military barracks that have been abandoned in the 1970s.
James Turrell lets the visitor perceive his architectural masterpiece Secondwind and in it, the light of Andalusia, in a special way. Via a tunnel, the contemplator enters an underground pyramid. In the centre of the pyramid a stupa surrounded by water resides. Once you go inside, the Buddhist architectural form makes the sky appear closer, because the view of the sky is released by a circular cutout in the dome. At dawn and at sunset, the colours in the stupa change so impressively due to the skilful design adapted to nature that an almost sacred perception of the sky as space, form or object is created.
The artists work hand in hand and in harmony with nature – visitors move as if on a journey of discovery through the complex, whose works of art sometimes spread their magic more or less hidden. In a present in which the polar caps are melting, this special place, just like its inherent art, demands a rethink on the part of the visitor. Under the Andalusian sun one experiences not only the native flora and fauna, but also the art communicating with it in a duet.
Cover picture: Gunilla Bandolin, Sky's Impression, 2001. Photo: Ilaria Specos
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