Discover the world of Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida, creator of artistic spaces

Discover the world of Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida, creator of artistic spaces
Discover the world of Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida, creator of artistic spaces

In 2024, the Basque Country celebrates the centenary of the birth of Eduardo Chillida. Space was his object of study, and he sculpted this space. On paper, iron, steel, wood or even concrete. His work resonates with his environment, such as Chillida Leku, the domain he created to share his creations with the public.

Born in San Sebastián, deeply rooted in his Basque Country and more particularly in Gipuzkoa, passionate about football (he was a goalkeeper for the “Real de San Sebastian” team), he studied architecture in Madrid, but gave up this course, for painting, drawing, sculpture, engraving.

Eduardo Chillida 2000

© France 3 Euskal Herri

He leaves for Paris where he meets Brancusi, Tapiès, Calder, Miro, with whom he becomes friends. The Maeght Foundation noticed him and exhibited him in the mid-1950s. He rubbed shoulders with Giacometti, Chagall, etc. From then on, his career accelerated. The philosopher Gaston Bachelard, no less, wrote him the catalog for his first exhibition. He calls Chillida, “The Blacksmith of Space”.

Chillida then searches again and again, to establish a dialogue between emptiness and fullness, black and white. Throughout his life, he will explore new spaces.


Zabalaga baserriko kanpokaldea, Hernani,

© Txirrita France 3 Nouvelle Aquitaine

Eduardo Chillida becomes one of the most important Basque artists, whose works are exhibited all over the world: in Paris at UNESCO, in Berlin at the Federal Chancellery, in Frankfurt, Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Seville, Gijón, Grenoble, Dallas, and of course the Basque Country.

He is also an artist committed to his country, witness to the mobilizations for amnesty at the end of Francoism, or even in favor of the creation of the University of the Basque Country for which he created the logo. He also puts his art at the service of peace in the Basque Country and human rights (Amnesty international).


Chillidak asmatu logotipoak

© Txirrita France 3 Nouvelle Aquitaine

Chillida has been working since the 80s – 90s on the creation of an exhibition space for his monumental works (some measuring 8 meters high) or more intimate ones which he will present in the Zabalaga farm located on the land he acquired in Hernani, near San Sebastián – Donostia. The space was inaugurated in 2000: a sculpture park where the visitor is invited to wander through the works as one would in a forest, between the trees.

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Telefonica Fund

© Txirrita France 3 Nouvelle Aquitaine

Luis Chillida, is the president of the Chillida Foundation – Belzunce, which since 2017 has hosted and managed Chillida Leku (the Chillida place) with the Swiss gallery Hauser & Wirth. An essential partnership to maintain this place which temporarily closed its doors for 9 years, from 2010 to 2019. Which also allows us to offer exchanges between collections of the foundation and the gallery.

Luis remembers the friendship his father maintained with the greatest visual artists of his time. All working in their own way, continuing their research, plowing their own furrow, but sharing their ideas, their thoughts, in an incredible cultural broth.


Luis Chillida

© Txirrita France 3 Nouvelle Aquitaine

Luis tells us about the more intimate Chillida, about the father he was. Attentive to the happiness of his children, letting them play among the sculptors in the park around the Zabalaga farm, in what will become the Chillida Leku. A way to let your children take ownership of your work.

My mother was the person who connected my father to planet Earth, because he was in her universe! They were complementary.

Pilar Belzunce in 2000. Eduardo was able to follow his journey thanks to Pilar Belzunce, his wife. They founded a family of 8 children: Eduardo tirelessly creating. Pilar, at his side, a true pillar. Luis recently told Spanish Television that both deserved the centenary tributes. What a sensitive statement to his mother. She encouraged Eduardo from his beginnings, in Paris, then throughout their lives.


Pilar Belzunce – 2000

© France 3 Euskal Herri

Mikel Chillida, is one of the 27 grandsons of Eduardo Chillida’s huge family! He explains to us how it is possible to enter the world of his grandfather, in communion with nature. As with the Wind Combs which defy the sea and the wind at the end of Ondarreta beach in San Sebastian. Chillida wanted us to enter her world intuitively, following the “scent of her works”, as Mikel recalls. Eduardo also called the models of the monumental sculptures on which he worked “aromas”. We understand and measure Chillida’s work through four of our five senses: smell, sight, listening and touch. Because what he ardently wanted was for people to touch and caress his works.


Mikel Chillida

© Txirrita France 3 Nouvelle Aquitaine

Our grandfather never gave answers to our questions, but he pushed us to think, to find the answers to our questions ourselves. He was playing with us. And Christmases here were incredible!


Haizearen orrazeak, Donostian

© France 3 Euskal Herri

Like his father Luis, Mikel introduces us to another Chillida, the incredible grandfather that was Eduardo, as well as the Basque that he was: “His roots deeply anchored in his earth and like a tree, the branches wide open to the world, to the four winds”.


Chillidaren zintzilikatzeak

© Txirrita France 3 Nouvelle Aquitaine

Nausica Sanchez, head of the Research and Education department of Chillida Leku. It sheds light on the approach of Chillida who defined himself as the architect of the void. She returns to all the tributes to the artists, thinkers, philosophers, writers that Chillida loved so much and who inspired him. Classical and contemporary references : Cioran, Goethe, Braque, Balenciaga, Fleming, Hokusai, Ruiz Balerdi, Lizardi, Aresti among others. A whole universe which reveals the man of great culture that Chillida was, curious and capable of wonder all his life.

He loved music, especially Bach. Its suites are our traveling companions in this Txirrita.

His work is musical. To approach it, we use terms like rhythms, silences, vibrations, variations.

Chillida and the young people: we understand and feel the relationship that Chillida had with the children thanks to a magnificent Antenne 2 archive from 1976, in which Chillida meets children at the Maeght Foundation, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. An incredible moment of dialogue and exchange. In charge of the Education department of Chillida Leku Nausica tells us how children have a strong link with the world of Chillida and why he talks to them so much.


Nausica Sanchez

© Txirrita France 3 Nouvelle Aquitaine

To find out more, discover: https://www.museochillidaleku.com/en/

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