Basque Country has a privileged geographic location in green northern Spain, around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France. Basque Country is a small country with a big identity featuring three main cities; Bilbao, San Sebastián & Vitoria-Gasteiz are located approximately an hour away from each other. If you want to indulge your senses in some culture and art in the region this year here are some events not to be missed.
1 – MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS: The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao represents one of the most ambitious cultural projects of the century. As well as its permanent collection including works of art of the most prominent artists of the second half of the 20th century, it also features captivating temporary exhibitions including:
HO TZU NYEN: THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING Dec 3, 2015 – Apr 24, 2016
Created by Singapore-born artist Ho Tzu Nyen, The Cloud of Unknowing (2011) is an immersive multichannel video installation that explores the representation of the elusive and amorphous cloud. Ho created the installation to represent his country at the 2011 Venice Biennale and is set in a deserted, low-income public housing block in Singapore and incorporates eight compartmentalised vignettes, each centered on a character who is met by an unexpected ethereal cloud permeating their immediate surroundings. The installation includes a soundtrack comprised of fragments of musical compositions, which the artist compiled from a selection of approximately 200 songs that mention clouds in their lyrics. Four screens envelop the viewer in a dense, theatrical atmosphere that further enhances the sensorial impact of the installation.
ANDY WARHOL: SHADOWS Feb 26 – Oct 2, 2016
Andy Warhol was known for admitting his “fondness for dull things”, which by the early 1960s corresponded to his use of photographic reproductions of found imagery culled from newspapers, magazines, and image archives. In 1978, at age 50, Warhol embarked upon the production of a monumental body of work made up for 102 silkscreened canvas panels, titled Shadows. The backgrounds of these canvases were painted with a sponge mop, the streaks and trails left by the mop adding “gesture” to the picture plane. Seven or eight different screens were used to create Shadows, as evidenced in the slight shifts in scales of dark areas as well as the arbitrary presence of spots of light.
LOUISE BOURGEOIS: STRUCTURES OF EXISTENCE – THE CELLS Mar 18 – Sept 4, 2016
In an artistic career spanning seven decades, Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911, Paris–d. 2010, New York) created a unique body of work in a wide range of forms, materials and sizes. Among the most innovative and challenging sculptural works in her extensive oeuvre are the Cells, a series of architectural spaces that preoccupied her for nearly 20 years. Bourgeois’s Cells are intensely psychological microcosms: situated within various enclosures, each is a multi-faceted collection of objects and sculptural forms arranged to evoke an atmosphere of emotional resonance.
2 – SAN SEBASTIAN EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE 2016 Jan – Dec 2016 San Sebastián is in the limelight this year as it seeks to place value on the role of culture as a tool for constructing a better coexistence. With this purpose, more than 400 cultural proposals for all audiences will take place from January to December. There will be exhibitions, concerts, theatre, dance, literature, and gastronomy, in which more than 500 artists from throughout Europe will participate. The programme is designed to leave a specific legacy for the future: a local community with greater freedom, humanism and respect towards human rights, a more participatory society that learns to solve its conflicts through culture and the arts.
3 – BASQUE FEST Mar 24 – 28, 2016 Bilbao will also be at the centre of cultural celebration in March, showcasing an array of Basque culture and identity including art exhibitions, dance, street theater, children’s entertainment and Basque design, gastronomy and sports such as rowing and pelota vasca (a variety of court sports). The cultural event is intended to develop into a prestigious, recurring event which will strengthen the cultural leadership of Bilbao.