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  • Near Donostia, San Sebastian, in the heart of Basque country, is situated the home atelier of Eduardo Chillida. The sculptor himself died in 2002 but the widow Pilar Belzunce lived still on the grounds when we visited the area.

    The hillside undulates up and down and is reigned by massive sculptures and surrounded by verdant grass. Green is the ultimate colour of Basque landscape, in all its hues and saturations.

    In his youth Chillida admired classic Greek sculpture over everything. For years he dreamed about a long journey to Greece so he could dive and drown into the real womb of arts. In 39 years of age he at last got a chance to fulfil his long-term dream. He spent many months in Greece and met in real life all the sculptures he had longed for to touch in his dreams. However, he felt restless. He could sculpt next to nothing. The light was too powerful and harsh. Day by day he felt himself more stranger under the azure sky and in the middle of cicada-filled olive groves.

    After that disappointing journey Chillida truly found himself as an artist. He understood that the core of his art wasn’t pure, southern, blinding, marbly Mediterranean light but dark, stormy, northern, rusty Biscayan light. That capricious and gloomy light would be the core of his artwork henceforth. All his life he had tried to escape his origin. Only after he accepted his roots he was able to create something unique in the eyes of the outer world.

    Ten years ago I would have hated (to the bottom of my guts) Chillida’s sculptures and thought them irrepairably ugly. They are made of rusty, peeling iron and bulky, pockmarked granite. At their best they looked like a mix-up between junkyard and open-pit mine.

    Now I find same damned ugly sculptures immensely sensitive and beautiful. Sea has changed. I don't know if I should be worried or happy.
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