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09|09|19 Exhibition programme Autumn 2019

Isabel Baquedano. On Beauty and the Sacred

30 October 2019–26 January 2020

On Beauty and the Sacred is the first survey of the entire oeuvre of Isabel Baquedano (Mendavia, Navarra, 1929–Madrid, 2018), one of the most unique figures in Spanish painting from the second half of the 20th century.

Trained in the Arts and Crafts School of Zaragoza and in the San Fernando Fine Arts School of Madrid, Baquedano earned a name for herself in the early 1960s, a time when she worked with a realistic figurative bent and made works that had a strong social underpinning while not losing sight of the Pop Art that was so fashionable at the time. Later, her work veered more towards the symbolic, as urban landscapes and everyday reality gave way to subjects and topics from the classical world or from art history itself. She was little known by the public at large—despite the fact that her works were regularly shown in both Madrid and the Basque Country—but her works garnered early critical accolades. In 1957, she competed for and secured a job as a drawing teacher at the Arts and Crafts School of Pamplona, where she was a prominent figure teaching several generations of artists.

As an artist, Baquedano was extremely demanding with her work, and while downplaying her own technical prowess, she tried to take painting to the limit, confronting the spectator with the enigma of subjects that lie beyond the visible. She is the author of an oeuvre which appears humble, extremely streamlined in its stylistic and expressive resources, and made—particularly since the early 1990s—with extreme economy of technique. As a painter, she is the master of a personal thematic universe which includes everyday scenes, still lifes, subjects taken from the classical tradition, themes from the Old and New Testament and images from the world of the circus.

On Beauty and the Sacred is curated by the sculptor Ángel Bados, a friend of Isabel who is thoroughly familiar with her oeuvre. It brings together almost 250 paintings and drawings grouped by series which provide spectators with a sweeping survey of the artist's professional career and life, as well as an examination of the issues that she was interested in exploring or recreating via her paintings.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue whose contributors include not only Bados but also the writer and poet Ignacio Gómez de Liaño and the art historian and former professor at the University of the Basque Country Adelina Moya.


Stone and Sky. Video installation by Víctor Erice

Starting 13 November 2019
Video Art and Digital Creation Programme at the Bilbao Fine Arts
Produced by Nautilus Films for Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa Fundazioa / Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Foundation
Museum and the BBVA Foundation
Sponsored by Fundación BBVA

Stone and Sky is an audiovisual installation by Víctor Erice whose motif is the monument devoted to the musician Aita Donostia located on the peak of Mount Agiña (Lesaka, Navarra), the work of the sculptor Jorge Oteiza and the architect Luis Vallet de Montano. Created at the request of the Aranzadi Science Society and unveiled on 20 June 1959, the memorial consists in a funeral stela created by Oteiza and a chapel built by Vallet.

Erice himself describes his work in this way: 'Both of them placed facing the camera, they were subjected to a cinematisation process in which light, sound and time play an essential role. The daytime vision contrasts with its night-time counterpart. The former offers images where nature coexists with history; the latter tries to capture the metaphysical dimension of the scene, illuminated by the Moon, presided over by the glimmer of the stars, that is, the elements that Jorge Oteiza identified as the "Culture of the Sky". To him, the sky was his essential purpose. He evoked it in Agiña, in all its immensity, in stone. Hence the title of this installation.'

The installation consists in two large-sized screenings—Day Space and Night Space—each nine minutes long which can be seen within the Video Art and Digital Creation Programme offered in conjunction with the Fundación BBVA.



Chasing Impressions. Small-Format Sorolla

20 November 2019– 23 February 2020
In conjunction with the Sorolla Museum (Madrid)

Throughout his life, Joaquín Sorolla (Valencia, 1863–Cercedilla, Madrid, 1923) managed to paint almost 1,000 oils on tiny pieces of cardboard or panels. He called them 'jottings', 'splotches' or 'colour notes'. This format was used increasingly by great artists throughout the 19th century as it allowed them to quickly capture ideas or impressions of things they had seen, in independent works that were more than a simple sketch.  Regarded at first as intimate works, unfinished products of the painter's work, they were soon appreciated for their creative freedom and began to be displayed and prized as samples of the artist's most personal and original facet.

Sorolla sometimes used them to test compositions, but often they were mere exercises. He kept them in his studio, hanging from wires and covering entire walls, but he soon began to frame them, and these tiny paintings abounded prominently in his exhibitions. Small in size yet large in boldness, they contain bursts of the most brilliant Sorolla.

The exhibition is made up of 186 oil paintings on cardboard or panel and a glass case with painting implements (palette, little boxes, bowls for turpentine, etc.).


Vicente Ameztoy. Retrospective

17 October 2019–26 January 2020. Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid
12 February–17 May 2020. Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.

Sponsored by BBK

In contrast to the abstract language common to the previous generation of Basque artists, Vicente Ameztoy (San Sebastián, 1946–2001) focused on a figuration that transformed Basque art in the 1970s and was accompanied by an interest in subjectivity, mystery and irony.

Disturbing, unusual images were a constant fixture in his entire oeuvre, highlighting his ability to turn such apparently everyday elements as the landscape into disturbing presences.

Along with allusions to the cultural and contemporary history of the Basque Country, in his painting Ameztoy used referents like pre-Raphaelite English painting, the Italian Quattrocento and Magritte's surrealism, always filtered through a sophisticated style and meticulous technique, his own interests like ecology and the world of photography and cinema—in 1982 he worked on the artistic design of the film Vacas by director Julio Medem—and his biographical ups and downs.

The first and to date only retrospective of his work was held in San Sebastián in 1990 and was designed by the artist himself as a compilation of his most important works from the 1970s and 1980s. Later, small exhibitions have been held focusing on partial aspects of his oeuvre, such as the ones at the Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea in San Sebastián (2000) and Artium in Vitoria-Gasteiz (2003). 

The exhibition at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum will present an interpretation of Vicente Ameztoy's works as a whole to the public for the first time and will span his entire artistic career. It will be accompanied by a catalogue with texts by writers Joseba Sarrionandia and Bernardo Atxaga; by Fernando Golvano, a professor of Aesthetic and Art Theory at the University of the Basque Country; and by Javier Viar and Miriam Alzuri, curators of the exhibition.

Produced by the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and curated by Javier Viar and Miriam Alzuri, the exhibition Vicente Ameztoy. A Retrospective will be unveiled first at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, and after closing there it will travel to the Bilbao Museum.


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