An action that invents a way of doing while doing it. This play on words defines the work of the sculptor June Crespo (Pamplona, 42 years old) so well that it is sometimes attributed to her when it comes to a quote from the Italian philosopher Luigi Pareyson. It suggests that the process by which something is achieved already has an outcome value. And it destroys the idea of the artist as a genius moved by infallible truths, greater than himself and who worked from Michelangelo to Picasso. In her studio in a Bilbao neighborhood, weeks before the big moment that will mark the opening of her exhibition Vascular at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (from March 1), June Crespo absorbs Pareyson's words. “They speak very precisely about what I experience in my artistic practice,” he explains. “I assume trial and error, with uncertainty and failure. Coincidences and calculation errors often determine the final form.”
It is unusual for a Spanish artist of her age to have a solo exhibition dedicated to her at the Guggenheim. She speaks with conviction, but without emphasis or pompous formulas. The most flowery thing that comes out of his mouth is: “It's nice to find what you wanted after an unexpected detour, so you better go for this adventure.” Adventure, not a challenge. “At first I called it that myself, challenge, but now I try not to,” she says. “When we talk about challenges, we tend to push things forward without leaving room for the unknown. I work differently. As if she were an assistant on the path that needs to emerge, instead of me demanding her to fulfill my desires.”
June Crespo works on one of her pieces, made by the specialist company Alfa Arte in Eibar. Alex Iturralde
He has based almost his entire artistic practice on sculpture, which had already emerged as his natural field since he studied Fine Arts at the University of the Basque Country in the early 2000s: “In this I saw a stimulating mystery, because it was a The The path not taken was very attractive to me.” The decisive factor were the courses with Professor Ángel Bados, one of the most influential artists in the Basque art scene and a fundamental figure in the new Basque sculpture that emerged in the 1980s. “I liked the way he accompanied us, not just taught us, so that we found our way of doing things,” remembers Crespo. “Later I realized that it was a back and forth because he was also open to our work. “I understood it by experiencing it myself when I taught courses.”
It would be too simplistic to consider it as one of the last stops on a path of modern Basque sculpture that, starting from Oteiza and Chillida, would form a straight line with Bados itself, and then Marisa Fernández, Pello Irazu, Txomin Badiola, Sergio Prego or Ibon Aranberri. “Of course you feel like you’re part of something because it’s what you bring with you from home,” he reflects. “I have respect for the artists who have preceded me, but also for the colleagues who are close to me. Everything forms a network that I talk to.”
Crespo completes another of his works for the Guggenheim Museum. Alex Iturralde
This network often comes up in conversations. When we talk about her experience at the 2022 Venice Biennale, where she was one of the only two current Spanish authors selected by the curator Cecilia Alemani (the other was Teresa Solar), she quotes the Polish artist Aneta Grzeszykowska, who wrote the Raum shared with her: “Living together with his works was very exciting for me. Venice was a learning experience where I tried to do my best. And the subsequent feedback was good, I was very happy.” She also emphasizes the respect that she has for other generation colleagues, such as Julia Spínola and Elena Aitzkoa.
His sculptures, which combine a wide variety of materials and often stage the clash of opposites – the soft and the hard, the organic and the industrial – convey a deceptively unfinished impression that can bring to mind the idea of rubble. Even when it's about the human body, like in his series “Helms” and “Cheek to Cheek”. Crespo always starts by observing what is around him. Radiators, pipes, mannequins, flowers. “When I put together the things I collect, I sometimes feel the desire to do something with them,” he says. “I work a lot with shapes, variations or repetitions. Sometimes the source of inspiration is my previous practice, and the result is something better than I imagined.” An action that invents a way of doing as it does.
Detail of “Vessel Set (1)”. Cast bronze, teardrop-shaped steel sheet, tables and steel structure.Ander Sagastiberri
An experience that shaped him was his time at the artist residency De Ateliers in Amsterdam between 2015 and 2017. “It was a very rich time that brought about many encounters with artists of different generations and backgrounds,” he remembers. “The Basque Country is a place of reference artists who pursue their work with a lot of commitment and seriousness, and that has shaped me.” But at the same time you can be a little limited by this context. Going out was a way to facilitate change and give myself permission to integrate different ways of doing and thinking. When I came back, I went back to the pieces I had done here before, which had a different affectivity, something warmer.”
There will be news at the Guggenheim. Several of the new sculptures, specially made at the Alfa Arte company in Eibar (Gipuzkoa), measure three meters or more. He had never created pieces of this scale before, although the exhibition dedicated to him at CA2M in Móstoles last year began to point in that direction. Now try to make sure that the result is not too colossal. “The size of the pieces creates a relationship with people,” he emphasizes. “They border on the idea of the monument, but without the monumental.”
“Vascular (5)”, another new piece produced in Eibar. Curved teardrop-shaped steel sheet and carpets.Ander Sagastiberri
On the other hand, she doesn't seem to care about the personality of the Guggenheim room in Bilbao, where Frank Gehry's architecture competes with the art it contains: “What has become more present for me is the spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois or the pieces from the Serra Gallery next to my living room. I wasn’t looking for it, but there will be little echoes.”
He is aware of the attention he will receive these days: “I don't think about it while I'm working, but I suffer from it the closer the moment comes. I would prefer that people see my exhibition and then give me their answer. Because even though I'm a little afraid of this answer, it has to do with the work itself. “More than mine.”
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