'It is the sculptural object and the volume inside it that holds space, orients it - creates it. It is the individual object and the life within it, not the environment, that matters most'
(M. Brenson, 'From Chillida: Pillars of Energy and Gravity', in The New York Times, 1 December 1989).
A supple and sinuous cubic form distinctive of Eduardo Chillida's unique aesthetic, Locmariaquer IV is part of an important series of sculptures dating from 1989. Exhibited at the artist's breakthrough New York exhibition at Sidney Janis Gallery, Chillida in New York, in 1989 - 1990, the work was among those praised by Michael Brenson in the New York Times at the time, declaring that 'throughout [Chillida's] exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery, it is the sculptural object and the volume inside it that holds space, orients it - creates it. It is the individual object and the life within it, not the environment, that matters most (M. Brenson, 'From Chillida: Pillars of Energy and Gravity', in The New York Times, 1 December 1989). The solid steel of Locmariaquer IV appears molded; fashioned in such a way that it appears to be bent and folded so that steel seems as pliable as wax. Rendered out of steel, the iron alloy has consistently been his privileged medium and acts as a catalyst for articulating Chillida's philosophical interest in iron and space. Another work from this series, Locmariaquer IX, forms part of the collection of Museo Chillida-Leku.
Its title eponymously refers to the Neolithic megaliths scattered across the Brittany village of the same name in the West of France. Informed by the cavernous grottos and monumental dolmen such as the Broken Menhir of Er Grah, Locmariaquer IV offers a glimpse into its interior space held within its steel walls. Opening itself up to the viewer, what first appears as a solid, metal structure presents its interiority through its open recesses. The corporeality of the sculptures appears stacked, crafting geometric shapes out of thin air. Chillida's sheets of metal create illusory spaces through their own prismatic configurations, delicately folded to reveal an empty interior. Here the solidity of the massive single blocks of stone is transformed, the corporality of the sculpture dematerialised into an impossibly light shell of steel. Locmariaquer IV, with its delicate folds of steel, space evolves in a seemingly natural development or progression of rectangular form is a powerful example of this common tendency in Chillida's work. There is a tensile quality to the iron, as if impossibly stretched to wrap around the cubic interior of air.
Rooted in reality and in the elemental nature of his materials, a pervasive sense of the organic running through Chillida's work, even when the forms he has adopted are at their most geometric or abstract. This is particularly true of his iron sculptures, which never fail to invoke a sense of the primal nature through the majestic darkness of the iron. As Gaston Bachelard once wrote '[Chillida] is familiar with the complex soul of iron. He knows that iron has a strange sensitivity' (G. Bachelard quoted in I. Busch, 'Eduardo Chillida, Architect of the Void: On the Synthesis of Architecture and Sculpture', Chillida 1948-1998, exh. cat., Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1998, p. 66). It is this adept fluency with this medium that stands Chillida apart from his forebears including Pablo Gargallo and Julio González who first introduced metallurgy to the sculptural vernacular. Instead of welding iron and steel, Chillida only ever employed traditional wrought metal. As a result his sculpture counterpoints its stark materiality with a lightness of touch, imbued with weightlessness and air.