Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002) is regarded as one of the foremost pioneers of modern sculpture and over a period of 50 years he produced an extraordinary body of work, establishing him as one of Spain’s most distinctive and internationally acclaimed artists. Ordovas will present the first dedicated exhibition in London of Chillida’s sculpture for almost twenty years; Chillida: From Iron to Light has been organised in collaboration with artist’s estate and will go on public display from 5 June until 27 July 2013. Sculptures made in steel and alabaster, each illustrating reoccurring themes in Chillida’s work, will be shown alongside works on paper, and source materials from the archive of the artist.
Ignacio Chillida, son of the artist, says “It has been some time since there was an exhibition of this nature dedicated to Eduardo Chillida in London. For this special occasion we have selected with Pilar Ordovás a group of works which are all closely related with Chillida’s interest in public art and, therefore themes such as scale- in particular the human scale, which is always an important reference in his work, making his sculptures monumental regardless of their size.
For the Chillida Family is an absolute pleasure to have been able to entrust Pilar Ordovás and her gallery to be able to show this body of work”
“Collaborating with the estate of the artist in staging this exhibition has been a wonderful and insightful experience,” says Pilar Ordovás. “Looking closely at Chillida’s work through the eyes of his children and grandchildren has been revelatory. It has been a great honour to have been able to select with the family, museum quality works by the artist, to show London and, by doing so, to have the opportunity to expose his work to a new generation of collectors, further strengthening awareness of Chillida’s work around the world”
Chillida considered his relentless search for the unknown in art to be an adventure in learning, and his sculptural study of temporal and spatial relationships have transformed the field of sculpture; he is hugely respected by many artists working today including Sir Anthony Caro, David Hockney, Ellsworth Kelly and Richard Serra. Chillida’s works in iron and steel are not cast, they are forged, solid forms and the weight even of smaller pieces is quite considerable; each sculpture is unique. One of the four sculptures that will be exhibited on the ground floor of the gallery is Basoa IV, a sculpture forged in steel in 1990, measuring 108cm and weighing almost 1,500 kgs. Three smaller works will also be exhibited, En El Limite I, 1995 Idea Para un Monumento II, 1994 and Begirari III, 1994. Chillida particularly favoured alabaster for his stone sculptures as he valued the way that light is able to enter this dense yet translucent stone. His project to make a sculpture inside the mountain of Tindaya on Fuerteventura, developed from his alabaster works of he 1990s. Inspired by a phrase by the Spanish poet Jorge Guillen, the series was called Lo profundo es el aire (deep as the air) and includes Arquitectura Heterodoxa III an alabaster sculpture carved in 2000. Displayed alongside this it there are two further alabasters, Sin Titulo, both carved in 1966.
Chillida’s collecting base is truly global with examples in major collections, both public and private, throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. His body of work includes over forty public sculptures installed in museums, including the Tate in London and Guggenheim New York, as well as cities throughout the world. Notable examples include Chillida’s tribute to German reunification, Berlin, 1999, which consists of two colossal iron structures in front of the New German Chancellery, and Peine del Viento XV (Wind Comb XV), 1977, a series of giant steel forceps that extend from the cliffs of San Sebastian, emblemizing man’s connection with nature.
Chillida exhibited his early work in 1949 in the Salon de Mai at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, and the next year took part in “Les mains éblouies”, a show of postwar art at the Galerie Maeght. After his first solo exhibition at the Clan Gallery in Madrid in 1954, Chillida exhibited his work in more than 100 one-man shows. He also participated in many international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (1958, 1988 and 1990); the Pittsburgh International, where he received the Carnegie Prize for sculpture in 1964 and, in 1978, shared the Andrew W. Mellon Prize with Willem de Kooning; and Documenta His first comprehensive retrospective in the United States was mounted by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 1966. Major retrospectives of Chillida’s graphic and sculptural work have since been mounted by the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. (1979), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (1980), Hayward Gallery in London (1990), Palacio de Miramar in San Sebastián (1992); and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (1999) and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (1999).
Photo: Claudio Álvarez
Chillida: From Iron to Light – 5 June – 27 July – 25 SAVILE ROW
LONDON W1S 2ER