Perspectives from Chillida Leku

At the Intersection of Art and Nature: Daniel Valera´s Reflections from the Chillida Leku Museum

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August 2023



As landscape designers, our work transcends the mere arrangement of natural elements; it is a constant dialogue with nature and cultural heritage. Recently, we visited the Chillida Leku Museum, a sanctuary where the art of Eduardo Chillida merges with nature, offering us a unique perspective on this interaction.

Walking through the museum's gardens, where monumental sculptures rise among beech and oak trees, we couldn't help but reflect on the symbiotic relationship between art and nature. Chillida, with his works of steel and granite, not only transformed the landscape but also conversed with it, prompting us to reconsider our own practices as landscape artists.

This experience reminded us of a text by Horacio Fernández, "Mountains and Waters," which explores the condition of the landscape artist as someone who not only observes but also lives the landscape. The idea that landscape artists should feel and experience nature before attempting to recreate it in their works deeply resonated with our visit to Chillida Leku. Chillida, like the landscapers mentioned by Fernández, understood that artistic creation is an autobiography of experiences and perceptions. His sculptures are not mere objects placed in a space, but living narratives that integrate and dialogue with their surroundings.

Contemporary art, in its highest expression, is a dialogue with space and time. Eduardo Chillida intrinsically understood this, as reflected in his work and thoughts. His sculpture is not just a form shaped in the void, but an act of presence, an encounter with the limit, where space becomes the true protagonist, and time, its silent accomplice.

Chillida's sculpture is an invitation to explore these limits, to perceive space not only with sight. This concept extends to landscaping, where design is not limited to organizing natural elements but seeks to orchestrate a complete experience, in which every path, every water feature, and every tree resonates with the history and culture of the place.

Landscaping, like sculpture, has the ability to transform the void into lived space. Chillida teaches us that the void is a canvas full of possibilities, where the landscape becomes a living sculpture. Inspired by the Chillidas, we see landscaping not only as a technical discipline but also as an artistic and philosophical practice. We aim to design spaces that reflect the complexity, beauty, and depth of the natural and human landscape.

As garden designers, we are inspired to bring this philosophy to our own projects. The visit to the Chillida Leku Museum has reminded us that landscaping, like art, is a form of communication with the territory and our culture. We take from this place not only inspiration but also a renewed commitment to our projects, always seeking that dialogue between the natural and the man-made.