PHILIP AGUIRRE Y OTEGUI
°1961, Antwerp, Belgium
Philip Aguirre y Otegui (°1961) is an established Belgian artist, with work in the public space and in various museum- and private collections, both in Belgium and abroad.
One of his most famous projects is Théâtre Source in Douala, Cameroon (2013) for which the artist received the International Award for Public Art in 2017. Together with the local inhabitants, Aguirre reconstructed a water source into a large architectural sculpture. It illustrates the combination of artistic aesthetics with obvious engagement and humanism in Aguirre’s body of work. (More info: Philip Aguirre y Otegui, Théâtre Source, Ndogpassi, Ludion, 2015).
Philip Aguirre creates his own visual language, which is compelling and poetic at the same time. At one hand, fascinated by the animistic aspect of daily objects, he collects and uses these to create intuitive sculptures following a technique one could call sculpture automatique – reminding of the surrealist technique écriture automatique. The artist strives to create sculptures that contain a perfect formal tension, comparable to the famous Spanish still lifes from the Baroque era. At the other hand, Philip Aguirre makes work with a clear visual message. Aguirre has his eyes on the world, frequently visiting other cultures and continents such as Africa and Southern America. In many of his works, local objects and materials form a starting point. Exodus consists of sun-bleached sandals found on a beach in Senegal. The composition reminds of footprints left by a fleeing mass of refugees, and the Genocide in Rwanda during the 90’s. The vertical stacking of water bowls, titled Hamdalay, refers to the work of Constantin Brâncuși but equally has a social component reminding of a water source (an element often returning in Aguirre’s oeuvre), which is of large importance in African villages. His figurative sculptures – such as the man carrying a stack of plates – often miss individual characteristics in order to communicate about ‘La condition Humaine’ and mankind in a universal manner.
Aguirre’s humanistic and aesthetic commitment results in an oeuvre that bursts with references to architecture and art history, the artist’s own experiences, other cultures, political issues and society in general. With a seemingly simplicity Aguirre reveals a small part of himself, as a person and as an artist.