away among the Basonda and Oma Valleys, close to the mouth of the River
Oka in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, is the perfect and magical place
for a gentle stroll. In this stunningly beautiful UNESCO
listed area, a Basque artist has gone one better than nature and has
created a colourful landscape, quite unlike any other.
The Forest of Oma is situated
just to the north-east of Kortezubi, a small town in the Basque Country
of Spain. Here the artist Agustín
Ibarrola has created what is probably the best-known of his artistic
endeavours and a perfect example of what is known as “land art,” an artistic
trend that began in the 1960s that quite literally takes art into the countryside
and uses nature as its medium and its frame.
was born in Basauri (Biscay) in 1930, and while his first artistic attempts
were on a self-taught basis, in 1948 he received a grant which enabled
him to travel to Madrid where he was able to further explore art, especially
constructivism and cubism, and to produce work which is away from the norm,
a more social and less pure form of art.
painted Forest of Oma is typical of Ibarrola’s artistic outlook.
He started the work back in 1982 and says that the magical landscape represents
the social reality, the “eyes of our ancestors,” and “the light that entered
the forest and stayed there.” It is public art, made to be shared
with the people.
Throughout this forest,
he has painted colourful patterns, figures and shapes and taking a stroll
through this wonderland can be different for everyone.
Some of the work is painted
on one single tree, other patterns are spread over several trees, forcing
the viewer to see them as a landscape in themselves, varying depending
on the angle from which they are viewed.
In this article are three
examples of this work - by clicking on each image you can see a larger
version. However, to get an idea of the sheer variation and beauty
of Ibarrola’s vision, Bizkaia.net
has a full photo gallery of various parts of the forest as well as audio
guides to download before visiting the area. The map on the right
is courtesy Bizkaia.net.