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The oeuvre of Remigio Mendiburu (Hondarribia, Gipuzkoa, 1931–Barcelona, 1990) is one of the most unique artistic expressions from the second half of the 20th century—experimentation in sculpture was his main avenue of expression from very early on. Mendiburu’s creative undertakings can be situated within the process of updating the artistic languages of Basque art—he was a member of the Gaur group after 1966 along with Chillida, Balerdi, Amable Arias, Sistiaga, Basterretxea and Zumeta—while he remained connected to a broader context in which the subversion of the relationship among materials, constructive modes and formal developments extended sculpture’s field of meaning. He actively participated in this quest, and his works were constantly measured against the limits assigned to the sculptural body in the quest for a space where sculpture could take a more vitalist position, far from the limits of the merely contemplative.

This exhibition, curated by Juan Pablo Huércanos, deputy director of the Jorge Oteiza Museum Foundation, borrows its title from the homonymous work by the philosopher Henri Bergson. It seeks to survey the hallmarks of this artist via a compilation of his entire career, from his beginnings until the late 1950s, from his characteristic dabbles in Informalism and his resymbolisation of popular forms to his last projects in the Gernika and The Night of Exile series. The show also displays his first complex structures and hanging pieces created within the Kabiak and Ezpalak series, his experiments with constructing the form and transcending the sculptural object in the 1970s, and his works based on superimpositions, such as those from his Atariak series.

The show, which brings together more than 100 works, including sculptures and works on paper, stresses the aspects that distance Mendiburu from the formal conventions of his time and situate him as the author of experiential sculpture in which the conflict between nature and culture is particularly latent. The resonant kinds of materials he used and the complex constructive modes based on assemblage and pattern were the hallmarks of a fully phenomenological oeuvre permeated with personal, cultural and social correspondences which became a benchmark in the transformation of the art of his day. His particular way of expressing himself through matter and of determining the idea of the sculptural as the result of the structural tensions in the creative process enabled him to create a language of his own which frames his works within the last stages of modernity.

Mendiburu. Matter and Memory

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