Carved from subtly translucent alabaster, Horta de Ebro (Homenaje a Chillida) is a monument to Eduardo Chillida's sculptural practice and his achievements in this unique and lustrous medium. Echoing roof tops or rocky cliff tops, its clustered geometric peaks place the work further within the artistic pantheon by explicitly referencing the village of Horta de Ebro in the mountains of southern Spain, where Picasso made seminal investigations into Cubism. Valdés has transformed landscape into sculpture in an inversion of how Chillida installed sculpture to animate landscapes. Valdes once declared: 'I am just a narrator who comments on the history of painting in various ways; using new materials, it is like a game that consists of changing the code and the key to the art works.' (M.J. Salazar, 'Valdés 25 Years as a Pretext', in Manolo Valdés 1981-2006, exh. cat., Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid 2006, p. 20).
In Horta de Ebro (Homenaje a Chillida), Valdes is uniting both Picasso and Chillida through the medium of alabaster. To Chillida, its innate luminescence meant that it was the perfect material with which to express his theories on light and colour. 'I use alabaster because of a direct call from architecture. On working it, what I have tried since 1965 is a more architectural positing of my problems, as well as a new look at light. I had been deeply imbued in darkness, far from Greece. Alabaster provided a possibility of an encounter with light and architecture.'(E. Chillida, quoted in K. de Barañano, 'Homage to Eduardo Chillida,' Homage to Chillida, exh. cat., Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, 2006, p. 72). Carving them in ways that would maximise the material's ability to emit light, these sculptures often took the form of dynamic interactions of cubic rectangles of both solid stone and space. Valdés extends this idea in Horta de Ebro (Homenaje a Chillida) by creating slim crevices that cast dark, crisp shadows to contrast with the milky paleness of the alabaster, and by juxtaposing smooth diagonal planes against a background of the alabaster's natural coarseness. When light shines through the Horta de Ebro (Homenaje a Chillida), the vein-like patterns coursing through the solid mass are made apparent, rearticulating Chillida's quest to illustrate the fundamental relationship between light and material.