Marta Cárdenas. Autorretrato truncado, 1975. San Telmo Museoa

Saint Sebastian,

Usually, the collections on display at the San Telmo Museoa in San Sebastián do not date beyond the 1980s; that barrier is avoided in his exhibition “100 years. The modern and/or the contemporary”, which Peio Aguirre has curated and which can be seen both in its room dedicated to the art of that region and in the center's entrance hall, the tower, the industrialization room and the choir.

Given that a century is a sufficient period to trace changes and evolutions and obtain some conclusions, this project seeks to examine the evolution of creation in the Basque context since the 1920s, when the influence of the avant-garde that emerged in Paris became widespread in Europe and began to lay the foundations of an art with its own stamp in these provinces, until today, a time in which the local and the international, as well as the individual and the collective, come together permanently in the works of numerous artists.

This exhibition draws on the collections of this space, in some cases acquired in recent years, and those of institutions such as the Kutxa Foundation and the Provincial Council of Guipúzcoa, and proposes a route that is not entirely linear, but focused on the past. to the present and, in a certain geographical circle, from San Sebastián to its province and the entire Basque Country. The axis of the exhibition is the links and associations that can be found between one piece and another, which in the curator's words make up a dense tapestry that the viewer must be able to detect naturally.

María Paz Jiménez.  Untitled, circa 1968-1971.  San Telmo Museum

Starting from those who were first open to the novelties arriving from France in the European interwar period, the exhibition progresses by presenting works by Basque authors who knew how to combine a desire for openness with the capture of scenes of customs, pilgrimages and characteristic types, such as Aurelio Arteta, Jenaro de Urrutia, José Miguel Zumalabe or Julián Tellaeche. Gradually, entering the thirties, modernity was reflected in the taste for views of social life and its new dandies (Guezala, Lagarde).

The axis of “100 years. “The modern and/or the contemporary” is made up of creators linked to a perhaps genuinely Basque avant-garde – such as Nicolás de Lekuona, Jorge Oteiza or Narkis Balenciaga -, which would rise to prominence in the sixties, after a phase of less activity in the forties and fifties. , led by the Gaur group, eager to recover ties with international modernity and insert art into the collective concerns of society. Amable Arias, Néstor Basterrechea, Eduardo Chillida, Remigio Mendiburu, Jorge Oteiza, Rafael Ruiz Balerdi, José Antonio Sistiaga and José Luis Zumeta were part of it, and the figure of Ibarrola was also decisive at that time.

Kind Arias.  Untitled, 1966-1967.  San Telmo Museum

Among the great representatives of painting in this exhibition we can mention the neo-cubists Gracenea and Gonzalo Chillida and creators of new figurations with a dreamlike or neo-expressionist nature, such as Goenaga, Ameztoy or Nagel. More subjective and personal visions were marked by Antonio Valverde and Marta Cárdenas; In the field of New Sculpture, Txomin Badiola, Ángel Bados, Juan Luis Moraza and Elena Mendizábal could not be missing here. The renewal of his path in recent decades is embodied by Miren Arenzana.

And among the aforementioned latest acquisitions that we will contemplate are those of pieces by artists who began working in the nineties and in diverse disciplines, from fluid video to more corporal sculpture: Itziar Okariz, Isabel Herguera, Asier Mendizábal, José Ramón Amondarain, June Crespo or Ibon Aranberri. Hand in hand with each other, San Telmo Museoa wants to influence its commitment to the examination of the memory of the past and the developments to come in Basque creation; This is the first of a series of exhibitions that will be presented every two years based on its collection and that will have different curators.

Marta Cardenas.  Truncated self-portrait, 1975. San Telmo Museoa
Itziar Okariz.  The statues (armor of San Telmo), 2020. San Telmo Museoa

“100 years. The modern and/or the contemporary”


Plaza Zuloaga 1

Saint Sebastian

From April 13, 2024

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