With masterful sureness, Eduardo Chillida creates Lurra G-105, a vision of timeless clarity and formal rigour. A spare, towering support rises upwards, reminiscent of the crenelated fortresses, austere churches and medieval tombs which dot the ancient Basque landscape, the artist’s spiritual home. From the support, curving forms extend and grasp, arch and vault, interlocking like the powerful digits of two hands. In between them, space weaves and flows, turning into a positive value, a necessary counterweight to the massive, irregular form. Where solid and void embrace, where space is defined by the heavier material permeating and articulating it, Chillida invokes ‘the limit’. This concept, key to the artist’s oeuvre, is the point or place beyond dimension, where, like the sea crashing against the rocky coastline, or the sea and sky meeting on the horizon, elemental opposites meet and define. ‘Space must be conceived in terms of plastic volume, instead of being fixed with the help of lines onto the imaginary surface of the paper,’ the artist said, explaining this interaction. ‘I am unable to imagine it other than in three dimensions. That is the way form acquires its structure. Form springs spontaneously from the needs of the space that builds its dwelling, like an animal in its shell. Just like this animal, I am also an architect of the void.’ (E. Chillida, quoted in Chillida 1948-1998, exh. cat., Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1998-1999, p. 62).
Its title taken from the Basque for ‘earth’, this work is one of the largest and most monumental in the celebrated Lurra series, with counterparts, Lurra nº 67, Lurra G-199 and Lurra LXXIII in the collections of Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and the Fine Arts Museum, Bilbao. Crafted from the elemental terrain of Spain, clay, Lurra G-105 is intrinsically linked to the Basque landscape and the traditions of the artist’s native San Sebastián. In his youth, Chillida paid frequent visits to the talented potters and ceramicists who supplied artists such as Pablo Picasso, learning from them how to use the peculiar chamota clay, rich in iron oxide, rough, porous, and as compact as stone. Sculpted by hand and tooled with the knife, Lurra G-105 retains the immediacy of the artist’s gesture upon its surface, recalling, in Chillida’s skilful manipulation of this material, his encounter with the tradition of craftsmanship. The process of fire baking, which encourages the earth to yield its mineral oxides, transforms the clay into a unique work, with a rich patina of subtle colour and varying tone. In Lurra G-105, Chillida engages with elements, fusing the material essence of terracotta with the invocation of ephemeral space, creating a work which emanates extraordinary interior energy and unbounded, vital force.