The series of Lurras in particular, named after the Basque word for Earth, is a prime example of Chillida’s use of this medium to explore space and materiality. Guided by intuition and incited by tireless curiosity, Chillida described the unpredictable nature of his artistic approach: “I believe works conceived a priori are born dead… Is it not the decisive step for an artist to be almost always disoriented?” (Eduardo Chillida in conversation with David Brett, in: Circa Art Magazine, No. 42, 1988, p. 28).
Chillida's series of Lurras incarnate the artist’s custom of “experimentation based on repetition and serialisation” (Kosme de Barañano, ‘Geometry and tactual: The sculpture of Eduardo Chillida 1948-1998’, in: Exh. Cat., Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Chillida: 1948-1998, 2000, p. 18). Yet, each individual sculpture is rendered unique through variable perforated designs and alternated methods of burning, which result in an impressive variation of shape and colour. Fired in a wood kiln, the present sculpture sits like a cubical house-tower found in the artist’s native Basque Country, exposing a delicate assortment of ochre tones.
Parallel to these efforts, Chillida additionally pursued a very small series of four terracotta Mesas during his exploration of the medium. The artist had initially designed four steel tables in homage to Luca Paccioli, Alberto Giacometti and Omar Khayyam. The present Mesa is one of those four existing terracotta tables and is inspired by one particular steel table design Chillida had executed in the same year of 1984, titled Architect’s Table. The artist was deeply moved by the notion of emptiness and an attempt to define it visually remained a recurring feature throughout his entire artistic career. These ambitions truly resonate through the spaces and voids of the beautiful terracotta Mesa.
Chillida’s terracotta designs remained unconcerned with narrative or imagery. Rather, in awareness of the defined space expressed by the terracotta, the vacuums created by the knife-pierced imprints in the present Lurra or the ability to look through the present Mesa’s empty spaces, these two works truly embrace Chillida’s recurring assessment of the value of emptiness within space.
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