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Chillida Leku: a new life for the Chillida museum

The Chillida Leku Museum will soon be open again. An excellent excuse to revisit the author, his home town and his most iconic works.

Next 17 April will see the re-opening of the Chillida Leku Museum near San Sebastián, the open-air art venue which the sculptor Eduardo Chillida founded back in the 1980s. Over 40 works by the Basque sculptor are displayed in this spacious setting of gardens and woodlands, a place (leku, in Basque) which Chillida and his wife Pilar Belzunce maintained themselves but which closed in 2011 as a result of the recession and the withdrawal of funding.

The re-opening of the museum, which is all down to the joint efforts of the Chillida family and the Swiss gallery Hauser & Wirth, provides a marvellous opportunity to remind the world of the extraordinary quality of the work of this sculptor from Guipúzcoa, an author who succeeded in achieving a seamless integration between the Basque landscape and the local industrial materials that he had worked with all his life.

Located in Hernani, 7 kilometres from the centre of San Sebastián, the museum is set in 11 hectares of land and the central building is the old Zabalaga farmhouse, a traditional Basque construction approximately five hundred years old. From mid-April, visitors will once again be able to explore this beautiful site which boasts major works by the author like Seeking the Light and Lotura XXXII, and which, according to the new director Mireia Massagué, aims to become an international space of gathering that also engages with the local community.

San Sebastián, a city that hosts numerous annual cultural events, can once again boast of being home to a world-class museum that many of us feared had been lost forever. The re-opening of the Chillida Leku Museum will once again put Eduardo Chillida's late works on the arts map.

The sculptor's work has always transcended the boundaries of the Basque Country and lived in harmony in other enclaves. Many cities are graced with monuments and sculptures created by Chillida.

Gothic Quarter, Barcelona

Situated in the central location of Plaça del Rei, Topos V was purchased by Barcelona City Council in mid-1980s. The iron sculpture strikes a dramatic constrast with the Gothic constructions in the square.

Muelle de la Sal, Seville

Chillida's Monument to Tolerance stands across the river from Triana was commissioned for the 1992 World's Fair held in Seville. As the sculptor himself said, it was inspired by the idea that the city would become the place where Jews, Arabs and Christians would join hands in peace and harmony.

Peace of Westphalia Square, Munster

Munster in western Germany is the home of the sculpture Tolerance through Dialogue, which has certain parallels with the monument in Seville. Hardly surprising since the two works date from the same period.

Cimadevilla, old town of Gijón

Eulogy to the Horizon, Chillida's awe-inspiring concrete sculpture overlooking the Bay of Biscay in Gijón, was created in 1990. Its solid form resembles an embrace, and it seems poised to take flight over the sea. If you stand inside it, you can even feel the effect of the waves.

La Concha Beach, San Sebastián

And we end with what is perhaps Chillida's most iconic work, The Comb of the Wind, situated at one end of La Concha Beach in San Sebastián. As the name suggests, three solid steel figures seem to comb the wind as it blows over the beach.

In short, if the exellent cuisine isn't already a great excuse to visit San Sebastián, now the Chillida Leku Museum is one more reason to take a break in the Basque Country.

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