SEPTEMBER 11, 2015
A jury of seven leading personalities in the world of contemporary art in the Basque Country has selected five young artists as finalists for the 2015 Itzal aktiboa Contemporary Art Prize: Grégory Cuquel (born in Bayonne in 1980), María Jiménez Moreno (Pamplona/Iruña, 1978), Cécile Mestelan (Bayonne, 1988), Mickaël Vivier (Bayonne, 1983) and Eluska Zabalo Monje (San Sebastian/Donostia, 1982).
The works that they submitted for the competition will be exhibited throughout October in the “Prison des Evêques” in Saint Jean Pied de Port / Donibane Garazi /. The inauguration of the exhibition will take place on Friday 2 October at 6.30 p.m. The prize, of 2,000 euros, will be awarded to one of the five artists on this occasion.
The competition, organized in collaboration with the Basque Cultural Institute and with the support of the municipality of Saint Jean Pied de Port, is designed to foster contemporary art in the context of Basque culture and to contribute to a broader awareness of contemporary Basque creativity.
Grégory Cuquel will show a series of drawings in graphite, entitled “garden of brokenness”, in which curves, folds and cracks reveal mental paths and architectures inspired by music. He will also exhibit some recent sculptures whose curving elements echo the forms represented in his drawings.
María Jiménez Moreno will exhibit works forming part of her “Objetuario (Taxonomía ilustrada)”, a graphic project inspired by the illustrations created by 18th and 19th century scientists and explorers to study and catalogue natural species. A series of 11 coloured illustrations using various techniques show reproductions of knitted sculptures created by the artist herself.
Cécile Mestelan will present an installation called “Fétiches”, made up of small-scale sculptures displayed on plinths made out of cork. Combining geometric and organic elements with effects that range from the stylised to the grotesque, her sculptures question the role in today’s society of modern fetishes ranging from works of art to lucky charms.
Mickaël Vivier has created an installation entitled “Natural history” based on a 19th century account of two lovers who made a tryst in a seaside cave only to be trapped by the rising tide and drowned. Today, the cave, known as “la Chambre d’Amour”, is a gloomy place used for parking cars and littered with cigarette butts and empty beer cans. A combination of video, sculpture and graphic art superimposes the legend and contemporary reality.
Eluska Zabalo Monje presents a work called “Paisaje errático #1”, consisting of 12 photoengravings on aluminium sheets which in turn represent enlarged portions of etchings of landscapes. Using landscape as her starting point, the artist uses deconstruction and fragmentation to disassociate form and line attain a degree of abstraction in which referential and formal values are in a state of tense equilibrium.
The jury’s choice of these five artists was motivated by the innovative and creative nature of their work. Under the chairmanship of the director of the Basque Cultural Institute, Pantxoa Etchegoin, the jury includes: Juanma Arriaga, director of Galeria Kur, Donostia (Gipuzkoa); Celia Eslava, painter, sculptor and ceramicist; Pantxoa Etchegoin, director of the Basque Cultural Institute; François Loustau, exhibition curator and contemporary art advisor; Javier Manzanos, director of the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo of Uharte, Navarre; Iñaki Olazabal, sculptor; Elke Roloff, Cultural development officer, CPIE Littoral basque.
The exhibition can be visited from Saturday 3 October to Sunday 1 November in the Prison des Evêques, Saint Jean Pied de Port, every day except Tuesday from 11.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 2.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. Entry is free of charge.
Details of the rules of the competition are available in Euskara, French and Spanish
OCTOBER 05, 2015
Mickaël Vivier, a 32-year old artist from Baiona, has won the Itzal Aktiboa Prize for Contemporary Art with his installation “Natural history-Natura historia” combining drawings, sculpture and video in a retranscription of the legend of the “Chambre d’Amour”, a cave by the seaside in Angelu (Anglet) on the Basque coast.
The 2,000 euros prize is designed to reward a young artist of below 40 years of age, living and working in the Basque Country. Some 34 artists took part in the competition, organised by Itzal Aktiboa in collaboration with the Basque Cultural Institute.
Mickaël Vivier was born in Bayonne in 1983 and studied at the École Européenne Supérieure de l’Image in Angoulême and the University of Poitiers, before working for four years at the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art centre in Paris. Since 2012, he has been teaching video and cyber art at the École d’Art de l’Agglomération Côte - Basque Adour in Baiona.
Congratulating Michel, the president of the jury and director of the Basque Cultural Institute, Pantxoa Etchegoin, drew attention to the installation’s interesting combination of history and modernism and of organic, mineral and cultural references.
The legend of the Chambre d’Amour, or Chamber of Love, tells the tragic tale of a pair of lovers who set themselves a tryst in a seaside cave, where they were trapped by the rising tide and drowned.
The cave can still be seen today, located behind a car park at the beach known as Les Sables d’Or. Its floor is covered with inscriptions of names and hearts pierced with arrows, but also with empty beer cans, cigarette butts and used condoms. As the artist explains, this contrast between romantic myth and reality is the basis for his installation.
“Its purpose is to question our perception of our environment by drawing attention to the different ways in which we represent it, both in the past and in the present. By means of naturalist drawings, I illustrate the flora and fauna of our surroundings. Using 3D images, I show places that are inaccessible to Man. Through myths, I make sense of the natural phenomena that I witness. All of these are languages that enable us to re-write the world.”
A second prize, the Nautilus Lanzarote Prize consisting of an artist’s residence in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, was awarded to María Jiménez Moreno, a 38-year old artist from Zizur Nagusia in Navarre, for her series of illustrations entitled Objetuario (Taxonomía ilustrada). Congratulating María, Ana Piñel, the director of Bungalows Nautilus, the hotel complex that awards the prize, congratulated her on the delicacy and originality of her work, inspired by the botanical illustrations produced by explorers and naturalists in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The other artists participating in the exhibition each received a book on Basque sculpture, donated by the municipality of Saint Jean Pied de Port.
Alongside Pantxoa Etchegoin, the other members of the jury were: Juanma Arriaga, director of Galeria Kur, Donostia (Gipuzkoa); Celia Eslava, painter, sculptor and ceramicist; Pantxoa Etchegoin, director of the Basque Cultural Institute; François Loustau, exhibition curator and contemporary art advisor; Javier Manzanos, director of the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo of Uharte, Navarre; Iñaki Olazabal, sculptor; Elke Roloff, Cultural development officer, CPIE Littoral basque.
The exhibition can be visited until Sunday 1 November in the Prison des Evêques, Donibane Garazi (Saint Jean Pied de Port), every day except Tuesday from 11.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 2.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. Entry is free of charge.