Elena Mendizabal. Sculpture

Elena Mendizabal. Sculpture View of the exhibition. Photo: Gert Voor int' Holt

From: Friday, 08 November 2019

To: Sunday, 03 May 2020

The exhibition provides an extensive overview of the work of the artist Elena Mendizabal by focusing on the pieces she produced in the 1980s and 1990s

Curators: Beatriz Herráez and Enrique Martínez Goikoetxea

The exhibition provides an extensive overview of the work of the artist Elena Mendizabal (Donostia, 1960) by focusing on the pieces she produced in the 1980s and 1990s, a period of time that the Museum will programme a comprehensive analysis through various projects in 2020.

As the title of the exhibition indicates, sculpture has been the main medium with which the artist has developed her work, although it has also occasionally been displayed in sets of photographs, drawings or collages, major works of which have been incorporated into this exhibition.

The Museum’s rooms dedicated to this show contain almost a hundred works and also include documents and photographs of several projects that now no longer exist, an investigative study that helps us to explore the various aspects and current interests of Mendizabal’s career. After an initial space dedicated to contextualising her most recent work, the exhibition delves into the years during which Mendizabal constructed her discourse, thus helping to reinterpret a historical period in which the creative context of the Basque Country was incredibly vibrant and visible.

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A cluster of small-format sculptures made of materials such as cardboard, plasticine or clay welcomes the visitor. These sculptures configure various templates that refer to affective and cognitive schemes. Among these works are those made of plasticine, which date back to between 2016 and 2017 and are linked to the interests that can be found in Mendizabal’s previous works in which the human body –and references to women– assumed a decisive presence. The same exhibition space contains a series of pieces made of cardboard by the artist that seem to be highly constructive in nature. A group of ceramic pieces and several examples of two-dimensional works complete this section of the exhibition.

By taking a leap back in time, the exhibition covers other groups of works and series that belong to a time when Mendizabal’s creations began to link together, either iconically or metaphorically, the minimalist, constructive tradition of sculpture with figurative images and formal references from various fields, such as design or architecture. Works that avoided the bare geometric forms of abstraction and whose titles specifically mentioned objects such as Melena, Valla or ST (Basque furniture)...

In 1989, the artist participated in a show at ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Sala Montcada in Barcelona, alongside the sculptor Alberto Oyarzabal. A major selection of the works on display at this exhibition can be seen in a central area between the rooms dedicated to this project in the Museum. In these pieces, the subject of flowers becomes the motif for developing abstract sculptural structures made initially of metal and then of painted wood. They can simultaneously be viewed as furniture-elements or pedestals: Jardín, Jardín americano or several works entitled Flor produced between 1988 and 1989.

The formal research conducted by the artist in later years uninhibitedly began to combine traditional materials with surprising elements such as wallpaper, Formica or electric light, elements that would act as springboards for bringing the experience of sculpture closer to daily life. This period also includes other examples in which the artist produced works from fragmented, assembled images that were sometimes taken from copies of previous sculptures.

The earliest works contained in the exhibition date back to between 1982 and 1984 and provide an account of the working context and dialogue exchanges occurring during this period, among which are those related to the object’s conceptual, semiotic analysis and the artist’s role in society. This group of works contains a clash between the conceptual, post-minimalist postulates of international art discourse at the time and the legacy of sculptural languages in the Basque Country. An encounter with postmodernity that would lead the artist to define a body of work determined by contrasting materials and major discursive consistency. A body of work that has always been imbued by a profound knowledge of the history of 20th century art and her position as a teacher of sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts in the Basque Country, where she has been giving classes since 1987.


Opening program  Brochure  Works on exhibition  Book 

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