MIKEL LERTXUNDI

Thought

 

TO BEGIN

(…) I would describe the world as three concentric circumferences: in the nucleus, most intensely coloured, iron, including all kinds of metal; more clearly coloured we find stone; and the outer ring is composed of vegetation, from a sculptor’s point of view – wood.

(…) Wherever a hard-wearing base is needed, stone is to befound. Where strength is needed, iron. And to warm, temper and soften our surroundings, wood. These three are always accompanied by water, air and fire – agents of creation and destruction – the constants of our existence. Creation–Destruction= Beginning–End=Alpha–Omega. In this lies the key to our existence.

Life is a balance which needs equilibrium. (…)

Of itself nothing can be more than its own essence. However, with the right complements it can  achieve another wholeness. (…)

With only one element, you can never achieve a balance. (…)

Nature in itself  has a harmonious balance. It is we humans who through ignorance (“thinking we know so much”) and carelessness unbalance it. (…) Anything which emerges spontaneously never does so in any old place, or at any moment, or in any old way. Each element emerges in its correspondent place, environment and time, amongst thousands of other stimulating circumstances

 “Lertxundi, universal art expressed in the basque idiom”, 1988

 

LOOKING BACK ALONG THE BEATEN PATH

I found my voice when I came upon the union of stone, wood and iron. I tuned that voice when I reached simplicity. Trying to reveal the beauty of Nature through the materials closest to her. Letting the materials speak of and for themselves, of their own self and bodily state and of their contribution to all that is Nature. (…)

Observing the stage that is Nature. Stone, wood and iron, in a word – the Earth, provide the stage for water, air and fire. Air surrounds the wide space of the Earth. Water and fire take their place on the outside and in the inside of the Earth. The three elements are instrumental in the maintenance and renewal of the Earth. They have added music, sound, magic and mystery to the poetry that I want to offer to Nature. (…) I felt comfortable shaping my work from that simplicity. The language of geometry has led me to understanding of the world. That is why I have sought pure geometry and mathematical order in an ideal space which I feel does not need the baroque to be appreciated. Exploring, almost to the point of obsession, very specific themes: materials, space, balance, existence… and I think I have found my own personal language through which to express myself, question, answer and even alert. In the search for the plastic values of these materials and elements I have tried to transcend the mere aesthetic attraction of their image. I wanted to attract the viewer’s attention and help him/her see the vital importance of a reality we live daily, provoking a dialogue which would lead to reflection. From an ecological point of view, make him/her aware of the fragility of Nature’s objects and elements. Show the need for care in the use and conservation of these things, sources of life for the Earth and, consequently, those who live on it. These materials and elements have a profound influence on our unconscious. Our existence is full of sensations and experiences that are tied to them and which I try to awake in my work. I try to alert the senses and provoke emotions.

“<< Rew… Lertxundi 1974-1999”. Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa Foundation, 2000

 

SPACES, NOT VOIDS

We all agree on one characteristic of space, however many interpretations and definitions we use. That is its being a place. Once we understand space as the principle of an entity which provides a place to live we accept it as a concept and reality. Heidegger said that human life is a way of being in the world. If we agree with him on our need to accept the element of space, then being in the world, in space, converts us into an element of it too.

We carry within us the need to belong to a specific place. This sense of belonging is the impulse behind our exploration of the places closest to us, which in turn activates the process by which we develop our sense of space. (…)

After recognising the space we call home we go outside and our eyes behold the sky. Our first impression, comparing it to the earth, is that of empty space. But the clouds and stars soon reveal there is movement and life there. Our first experience of the sea is similar. (…)

In the same way that the sky and the sea help us to comprehend the infiniteness of space, the surface of the Earth brings us to the realisation that space is made up of spaces. (…)

That is why our human consciousness enables us to percieve an order in space and in all the elements it surrounds. We inter-relate spaces within other spaces, each element in its specific place. Order in space is something that unifies and balances. In my art order and situation are essential to the composition, and union and balance are primordial. My main inspiration is in the unifying power of space and the interaction of space and element. The association of stone and water, the fusion of iron and fire and the synchronism of wood and air offer me profound and suggestive aesthetic connotations.

(…) As Kant said, space is a framework for our perceptions. The simile of a frame seems suitable to me, but working in a three-dimensional art form I consider the stage a more appropriate metaphor. It goes beyond the static frame to include movement and action. Each spatial element, including ourselves, has a stage (space), a life (time) and a function (role) to live.

The order and placing of elements is of great help in the perception of space. Our concept of space is always present when we see or situate any element. The interaction of space and element is vital to our existence. My first journey to the U.S.A. had a great influence on my creative thinking. On the wide open plains of Utah, California and Nevada the immensity of space and the dispersion of elements gave me a new spatial insight. I was amazed how space could agglutinate such disperse objects over enormous distances. Through this process of zooming in and panning out I saw movement as a representation of life. (…)

Since then I seek the infinite in open spaces, places without limits, where human vision sees no end. (…)

With this in mind I started to create and model spaces for the elements. (…)

Catalogue of the “Juan Manuel Lumbreras” art gallery, 2004

 

IN SEARCH OF BALANCE. Travel notes.

I don’t know which of the two I discovered first, Art or Nature. Indeed, I don’t know whether I chose them or they me. They both appeared in my life in the shape of clayey soil when I was a boy. I separated this soft, moldable material and started to copy what I could see around me. By the time I was a young man the hobby had become an occupation, the children’s game a way of life.

Because Art is a way of life, like an unplanned journey, an adventure, this evolutionary process that we call life. You set off, in search, with no knowledge of how long the journey will last, where you will arrive nor what you will find there. Off you go, prodded on by questions and answers: Who? Where from? Where to? The same questions many have asked before, but their answers aren’t enough for you. You want to find your own answers, making your own way. At first you try everything, you learn from others. But creative passion pushes you towards opening new paths. That’s when you choose your tools and pack your rucksack.

I chose stone, wood and iron. Nature put them into my hands, along with the idea of joining them, showing me the way to their union. Uniting unalike materials demanded profound knowledge of the material. There was an imperious need to balance different entities, structures and nuances. This was what led me to search for balance. Only in equilibrium could I find the key to union. I came to understand that balance is everything, as in life itself. I continued on the path I had chosen, with Nature as my guide in the search for equilibrium.

Resting, I stared at space. Sky and sea showed me the infinite character of space. The earth contributes spatial reality – a container of spaces. (…)

In art there is no end to the search. When you think you’ve reached the goal it becomes a new starting point. And that is exactly what keeps you going.

Proceeding on my journey, with stone wood and iron in my rucksack and the space-stage image in my mind, I came across water, air and fire. Before I knew it sone had made space for water, wood for air and iron for fire.

Immaterial elements started to take strength from and presence over the material elements. I became more and more anxious to penetrate the material. What opened the door was simplicity of forms. I looked for silence in the hollows and empty spaces in the material and found a way in, seeking the enclosed essence. And there, in harmony and at one with Nature, feeling myself part of its whole, I breathed equilibrium.

Catalogue for the open air exhibition in Zenarruza Monastery. Bizkaia Provincial Council, 2006

 

FROM FORM TO ESSENCE

Yes and no. I don’t want my forms to look like something, but I do want them to remind us of something, to suggest something. I don’t know if I achieve it, but it is what I seek.

I SEEK a form, the simplest form. I follow its line and at the end of a curve or in the vertex of an angle I try to find a way in, into the material itself, which is where I want to reach.

TO REACH is to follow or make a path, to touch, to smell – to feel the immaterial in the material itself.

THE MATERIAL ITSELF – sometimes hard and compact in appearance, firmly authentic and unchanging. At other times it is soft and manageable, but maintaining its own form in content, volume and sensibility.

SENSIBILITY which I respect and revere as a sign of life, its natural state of being.

NATURAL STATE OF BEING in its own environment, which I feel and live as my own, an existentialist reference point which guides my steps.

STEPS that look beyond forms, that read between the lines of the drawn spaces, steps towards something more.

MORE profound and less superficial, more concentrated and less disperse, more intimate and less madding, more peaceful and less hurly-burly – by reducing, making more in unity. UNITY which takes us from all to nothing and vice versa, unity in the alloying of material and immaterial, unity which builds and creates by reducing form to its maximum essence.

ESSENCE in the discovery of the permanent and invariable in the nature of things. That which is in their purest state and exposed to the influence of time, the de/re – generation of the elements and to man’s usage.

Yes and no. I don’t want my forms to look like something in particular, but I do want them to facilitate a way in to the material, its essence, where I need to reach.

Catalogue of the “Juan Manuel Lumbreras” gallery, 2007