Artist Spotlight – Eduardo Chillida
#ARTWISEUP by SAL McINTYRE
SEPTEMBER 21, 2018 

For Spanish Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida, working with the term Abstract was merely a misnomer— even though most of his work falls into what we would name Abstract Art, his focus was never outside of the pursuit of representational realism, whether that be suggestion of figurative forms or of movements and space. After attending three years of architecture school at the University of Madrid, he abandoned his degree to devote himself to art, leading to what could be seen as a potent combination of formal material training and creative confidence, something clearly evident in the lines and motions of his work.

Interested in the philosophy behind artmaking as much as the physical practice, Chillida engaged in meaningful dialogue with other inquiring thinkers, reinterpreting the concepts of space and a human’s existence within one, and proximally commenting on themes like self identity, homelessness and cultural tolerance. “My whole Work is a journey of discovery in Space. Space is the liveliest of all, the one that surrounds us. I do not believe so much in experience. I think it is conservative. I believe in perception, which is something else. It is riskier and more progressive. There is something that still wants to progress and grow. Also, this is what I think makes you perceive, and perceiving directly acts upon the present, but with one foot firmly planted in the future. Experience, on the other hand, does the contrary: you are in the present, but with one foot in the past.” Although most known for his often monumental public sculptures, his radiating individuality is intimately visible in the gestures and structures of his painting and printmaking, an inescapable unique perspective on the world surrounding him that comes across in everything he did.

Eduardo Chillida – Collage, stone lithograph

In this stone lithograph print Collage what is visible in his bold dark marks is equally apparent in the delineations of white space, sometimes with purposeful markmaking and sometimes with what is left after the fact— an effect that leaves as much attention in the form as in the space around it. This begs the question ‘Which one is the form?’ and is a pristine example of Chillida’s particular brilliance and magic, a sophisticated work that is both deeply satisfying and inspiring.

Eduardo Chillida – Galerie Maeght, stone lithograph 1980

His shapes are often sweeping and what could be thought of as large, however they are by no respects clumsy— an achievement maybe due to his ability to be unhesitating and decisive. He seems to waste no time attempting to find the right direction, instead appearing to simply know exactly what he wants to say from the start, as seen in pieces like Galerie Maeght.

Eduardo Chillida – Maeght Zurich, stone lithograph 1981

In a work like Maeght Zurich we could be investigating macro- or micro- landforms, machinery or maybe the architecture of the mind, perhaps an aerial view or a cross-section, or even a stylized variation of a cave painting. Whether body or movement, his lines are forever indivisible from nature.

"...his radiating individuality is intimately visible in the gestures and structures of his painting and printmaking..."
Eduardo Chillida – Shape Evolution, stone lithograph 1968

In Shape Evolution, a 1968 cover of the Derriere le Miroir publication, Chillida’s magnificent shapes are highlighted by an exciting texture achieved in the printing process, something that features the exquisite beauty attainable with the medium of printmaking. Though this texture is seemingly accidental, the apparent chaos is nonetheless purposeful and carefully curated.

Eduardo Chillida – Mas Alla, stone lithograph 1974

Is Mas Alla rivers and roads, electronics or flower stem cellular communication? Perhaps the way in which it could be any of those things lends a character of universality to Chillida’s work, where a print of such simplicity can represent many complexities of the living experience.

Eduardo Chillida – Museo De Arte Abstracto, stone lithograph 1995

Another from Museo De Arte Abstracto is reminiscent of shadows on mountain peaks, or tangles of clothing fabric. The folds of emotional depth that can be ascribed to so human an abstract form are extraordinary— these works carve space for profound meditations and poetry.

Eduardo Chillida – Galerie Maeght, stone lithograph

And in another manifest epiphany, Galerie Maeght shows Chillida’s adeptness at finding just the right arrangement. It may not be necessary to define what his works allude to, as their unmistakable currents are felt with great resonance.

Read past #ArtWiseUP articles under the