During the 1980s, the Centre of Initiatives of Tolosa (CIT) organized the Basque Sculpture Exhibition for several years, in a deficient environment in cultural infrastructures and in the absence of institutional initiatives. The CIT organizes exhibitions with the purpose of showing annually the most recent sculptural creation of the most significant artists of the moment.
The commission of sculptures of the CIT of Tolosa, emerged from a private and non-official citizen initiative, is created thanks to the enthusiasm, dedication, altruism and above all the perseverance of a group of citizens led by the first president of the CIT.
In the 90s, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the CIT, the sculpture commission proposed to leave an outdoor sculpture in Tolosa for posterity. With this initiative we wanted to give an artistic value to our town and to be recognized and valued by the new generations, something that would have a future projection, a cultural heritage.
The project was presented to Jorge Oteiza, who accepted it with enthusiasm, but with one condition, he did not want to place a unique sculpture, he wanted to extend the proposal to more members of the Basque sculpture school. Thus, Tolosa could have a very important circuit of sculptors, in reparation to the exclusion that these sculptors had in “to the memory of Gernika.”
Several artists gave their confirmation.
Thanks to the generosity of these artists, the support of institutions, entities and “the commission of sculptures”; who managed it economically, Tolosa has a permanent exhibition of Basque Sculptors, in which it is tried to link the collective daily life with the artistic fact, the reflection and the enjoyment of both.
But with a genius as unpredictable as Oteiza, things could not be so simple and their placement was not without controversy; on one hand, the controversy linked to the fact of not making public, the one that would not have counted on these artists “in the reparation at Gernika”. On the other hand, after the placement of his other PAR MOVIL sculpture in tribute to Txabi Etxebarrieta, Oteiza wanted to unite with a human chain the two sculptures, to unite them symbolically. This symbolic union could not be carried out, since according to the commission they had nothing to do with the two pieces. ATAUTS, was a donation to the town of Tolosa within a cultural project; the other sculpture, however, entered into the sad problematic of the country. ATAUTS, was going to be placed on municipal land and PAR MOVIL on private land. Unable to materialize his proposal, his failure was brutal. Oteiza complained very bitterly to the point of wanting to withdraw the sculpture ATAUTS. (See book and DVD “Sculptures for a people”)
Globalization has dramatically improved communications, has invigorated and pluralized cultural circulation, has fostered a more pluralistic consciousness, much more in these moments when we have so much scientific knowledge.
The methods and objectives of art are evolving with the history of the creators, there is a noticeable interconnection between the different disciplines for which the simplest perceptual factors are those that point out the most crucial aesthetic issues, where the complementarity of both positions us in a moment where art fulfils a function of complex agglutination of transfers and interconnections with man “man in nature to become social man”.
Everything is moving. The objective is to rethink public spaces. And that the will to transform is the necessary engine of our positioning before the definition of the city as a stage of life, a meeting place and a symbolic route.
The placement of these sculptures was not free of controversy either, on the part of the citizenship. The contemporaneity of the works was not understandable to many. Today, they are already part of our urban environment and are integrated into our collective memory.
Continuing with this line of action, “ESKULTURASTEA” the First Symposium of Esculpture and Artistic intervention in public spaces of Tolosa was organized.
We want to go one step further.
ESKULTURASTEA has addressed the reflection on the meaning of art in public spaces, through debates, conferences and exhibitions. It has as created an urban laboratory.
Likewise, we tried to update the validity of the artistic practice, in the meaning of the public space, we wanted them to generate representations, actions and deliberations valid for the community. That is why, in 2012, we called a contest of sculpture and artistic intervention in public spaces under the name of Sculpture Symposium.
Estolda Arteko Lerroak
Community: Basque Country
Selected sculptor: Manu Uranga