Workshops for youngsters at Chillida Leku

Workshops for youngsters at Chillida Leku

17.07.2024 — 18.07.2024



This summer, the Basque Institute of Architecture is collaborating with Chillida Leku to offer young people aged 12 to 16 an interesting activity in the Zabalaga farmhouse. With the help of Maushaus, we will be moving the activity to this emblematic place for two mornings.

Coinciding with the Chillida exhibition from the Telefónica Foundation’s collection, we will be taking a closer look at the personalities that the Basque sculptor was generous enough to pay tribute to on various occasions throughout his long career, with great art and skill, in gratitude for the inspiration that they provided for his own work.

Over the course of these two mornings, we will look at the architectural connotation of many of these works that speak of the sea, of cities, and of homes for great figures of thought, art and literature, in order to create together, drawing on them and also to approach the work of the figures who inhabit these homes.

Through dynamics and manual exercises of various scales, we will try to enjoy delving into the mechanisms of contemporary creation, without losing sight of the anchors to which it is often tied with emotional ties that determine the world we know and that often combine tradition with modernity. Participants will be able to approach the artist’s works through drawing, paper collage, models or the construction of ephemeral artistic structures. The themes of the two days and the exercises to be carried out are explained below.

Day 1. Agenda: ‘The Houses’

Hokusai’s house. Eduardo Chillida was a great admirer of the work of Katsushika Hokusai, whom he met in the French national library during his youthful Parisian period, and whom he considered to be a great painter and a fantastic draughtsman. Thus, in 1981, Chillida made a house for him, in the shape of a wave that closes in on itself, reminiscent of the great wave of Kanagawa in 1830, where a boat of men try to survive the onslaught of an unleashed sea that leaves the profile of Fuji Yama in the background. It was probably thanks to this sculpture that, years later, the sculptor was commissioned to pay homage to the Japanese cartoonist he was so fond of, with a proposal for Mount Hakome, opposite the great Fuji volcano, in which he would reflect this time a new proposal of great stability, based on the idea of the Fuji Yama, a new proposal of great stability, based on the solid grip of two Sumo wrestlers inside an enclosure that frames the sacred mountain, a little in the way Hukusai knew how to recreate Takaroyama Yoichimon and Sendagawa Kichigoro in his day. The scent of this delicate work saw the light of day, and even the imposing steel piece that alternates square and round sections to establish its monumental form, but for various reasons the whole thing was never installed in Japan.

Bach’s house. Eduardo Chillida discovered Juan Sebastián Bach on the landing of a staircase when he was attending private mathematics lessons. That day he completely forgot about his class and sat on the steps listening to the German master’s cello suites. Over the years and in countless ways, the man from San Sebastián has paid homage to the work and figure of the composer, whose work became the soundtrack of his life, accompanying him hour after hour in the silence of his studio. It is worth mentioning the homage he paid with his ‘casa’, in which he tried to express with iron, the strength of his lungs and the power evident in his variations, capable of expanding in time and space. The sculptor spoke of music and specifically of his music on many occasions, and his poetic phrases are famous:

“Salute to Bach,
Modern as the waves, ancient as the sea,
always never different, but never always the same”.
“Music is like an ethereal, perfect sculpture”.
“Sculpture music have the same sound space and always rising”.

From these thoughts it is easy to glimpse Chillida’s analogy between emptiness and matter with the sound and silence that serve both the sculptor and the musician to create his pieces. Something that the master Goethe was also able to anticipate, when he said ‘Architecture is frozen music that comes to life with human movement’. Architecture, sculpture and music merge in the house that pays tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach with Corten steel in 1981 and which gives a home to this figure so decisive for his own creation, and which led to the way of creating his own variations around great questions, which the sculptor tried to answer plastically, in the form of his famous series to approach the unknown.

  • Exercise 1: site visit and drawing. The plan of the house.
  • Exercise 2: Making models.
  • Break: snack-pause.
  • Exercise 3: collective installation in the Chillida Leku garden.

Day 2. Down Town. Space and city.

The resonance of Eduardo Chillida’s Down Town with the metropolis and the great skyscrapers is almost evident, as is the form of the sculpture with some of them, such as the Seagram office tower designed for New York by the German architect Mies van der Rohe in collaboration with Phillip Johnson. In 1930 the architect first tried out the idea of a skyscraper for Berlin, in Friedrich Strasse, with a steel and glass structure that renounced the classic image of masonry that characterised American skyscrapers, demonstrating an extraordinary interest in simplicity, expressiveness and structural functionality as the hallmark of a building. When in 1954-58, during his American period, he had the opportunity to erect a colossus of over one hundred and fifty metres in Manhattan, Mies van der Rohe returned with his synthetic rationalism to propose new architectural languages for the city, in accordance with the needs and challenges of the time, establishing his own style and making a break with the traditional forms of the ‘high rise’. His first tower in the metropolis also breaks with the morphology of the city’s streets and its economic dynamics of maximum building yield, in such a way that it sets back its alignment with respect to the rest of the street, offering an extensive marble plaza that serves as the building’s base and anteroom from which to admire its slender bronze and glass piece, which breathes in the middle of an urban complex where the density overwhelms the passer-by and where the sombre buildings have to be observed from a distance. The German disdains the meaningless rules of modern construction and seeks with his architecture made of steel bones and glass skins a structurally clear expression that translates the interior of his building and manifests itself to the exterior with good rhythm and harmony, like a kind of music that fades crystalline in the heights.

His earlier achievement in the same decade, with the Lake Shore Drive flats, anticipated many of the strategies he would follow to achieve this architectural landmark, although the architect did not always succeed in translating his brilliant thinking to the interior of a city. This was the case with his marvellous bronze skyscraper planned for the City of London, which also envisaged the concession of a series of urban spaces together with the placement of a tower on a complex grid and which never saw the light of day.

Today, when contemplating Eduardo Chillida’s steel sculptures which, with their titles, appeal to the city centre of these modern metropolises, we cannot fail to see those clean volumes of Mies van der Rohe, like sculptures which assert themselves in search of their maximum expressiveness, from an apparent simplicity stripped of everything superfluous, and trying to achieve something like an ideal truth.

  • Exercise 1: site visit and drawing.
  • Exercise 2: photographic collage.
  • Break: snack-pause.
  • Exercise 3: construction of a metropolis.

For youngsters between 12 and 16 y.o.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Chillida Leku

Language: Spanish and Basque

Free activity with limited capacity