Miguel Zugaza: Foundation of modernity

His fruitful creativity may be one of the characteristic features of the multifaceted artist Néstor Basterretxea. At the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao we celebrate the centenary of his birth with an exhibition about his work in furniture and architecture design. Everyone appears here The Basterretxea possible in a comprehensive art experience where we observe how painting, sculpture, cinema, architecture, graphic and industrial designs meet naturally, sustained by the same creative pulse.

Another key to his artistic personality was the constant search for a new modern formal identity closely connected with Basque cultural identity. The extraordinary ‘Basque Cosmogonic Series’, donated to our museum by the artist himself, may be the best testimony of that connection between the distant times of art, between the past and its future. An insistent “search for the beginning” that, as Octavio Paz said, often requires the strength of the community, as was the case of the collective experience of the Gaur group, of which Néstor was one of its main catalysts.

The last aspect that I would like to highlight about Néstor Basterretxea was, without a doubt, his cosmopolitan vocation. The eventful contemporary history soon placed him in an international perspective, that of Latin American exile. In fact, his career began in Buenos Aires, torn between his job as a publicist and his frustrated interest in architecture. And, although his creative habitat settled, starting in the 1950s, definitively in the Basque Country, Néstor and his work have not stopped acting as connectors with the most international forms of modernity. Once again, the design and architecture testify to this cosmopolitanism and the location of his house – next to Oteiza – in Irun and in the same muga remains an authentic emblem of that cross-border vocation.

Placed at this point on the path, I want to conclude by reclaiming that place, that house of artists, as an authentic contemporary sanctuary of all forms and disciplines of creation, of the integration of the arts, the authentic motto of Basterretxea. The rigorous recovery of this modern ruin coinciding with the artist’s centenary may be the best recognition of his fruitful and highly original career, the true foundation of modernity in the Basque Country.

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