bannerGenerico EvaLootz eng

FACEBOOK 2048 831 a 72


bannerWeb 2 cas 




rafagaJosé Antonio Sistiaga

De rerum natura


2022/01/28 - 2022/05/22

Curator: Jean-Michel Bouhours



The exhibition De Rerum Natura devoted to the artist José Antonio Sistiaga proposes an unprecedented interpretation of an eight-decade long oeuvre, whose almost permanent reference to nature, through more than a hundred works, including paintings, graphic works and films, has provided a leitmotiv.

A widely held opinion about painting whose corollaries are the absence of figures, the attention paid to pictorial matter, the intervention of chance, the recourse to gesturality –of the artist working with his own body– involves casting doubt upon the artist’s mastery: «I can do that too». The returns to figuration (on the theme of the body) appear to reconfirm the need for mastery in the domain of drawing. Through a long work on himself, José Antonio Sistiaga's painting stems from exceeding this mastery, comparable with that of the paths of wisdom of oriental philosophies.

The works exhibited here enable a better understanding to be made of a path that originates in "landscape painting" and a style inspired by Impressionism and which, little by little, is gradually seeking an unprecedented pictorial direction: a "pure painting" that questions the principle of the reproduction of reality through the image, that which turns the act of painting into a higher manifestation, something akin to searching for the pulse of the cosmos. Without distancing himself from the source of inspiration represented by nature, the artist, on the other hand, is going to draw inspiration from its mechanisms and explore its infinity: «Would nature fit an image made by man?» wondered Friedrich Nietzsche in his work The Gay Science[1], adding: «The smallest piece of world is infinite!».

The move towards painting directly on film, from 1968 onwards, opens the way to a personal, intuitive and perfectly imaginary cosmogony that evokes the confines of our Universe: from the infinitely small (the world of particles that make up matter) to the infinitely large (the stars, the galaxies...). Beyond the unprecedented iconography that José Antonio Sistiaga's films offer us, the cinematographic «machine» becomes an unexpected ally for an artist who has always sought to represent, through painting, what the philosopher Henri Bergson defined as "the moving".

The exhibition is divided into 6 chronologically ordered rooms, where the visitor can appreciate each of the artist's creative stages, as well as the variety of materials and techniques he has worked with.

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Cambridge University Press, 2001.


Ráfaga, (Gust) 1970 | University of Navarra Museum




SISTIAGA-FOTO JUANTXO EGAAJosé Antonio Sistiaga  (Donostia / San Sebastián, 1932)


Interested in art since his youth, his time in Paris in the 1950s gave him the opportunity to acquire a diverse view of art, and to meet the painter Manuel Duque, who was to exert an important influence on him. In 1958 he exhibited figurative paintings in Donostia/San Sebastian, and in Paris a year later. And ever since, he did not cease doing so all over the world (Spain, Italy, Canada, France, the United States, Mexico, etc.).

As the curator Jean-Michel Bouhours points out, José Antonio Sistiaga is one of the main figures within the framework of informal abstraction, an international trend arising partly out of Surrealism and which emerged in the United States from the 1940s onwards with Abstract Expressionism, and spread rapidly throughout Europe under different names: lyrical abstraction, gestural abstraction, etc.

Convinced of the need for a change of paradigm in art teaching, he opened the Free Expression Workshop in Donostia/San Sebastian in the 1960s together with Esther Ferrer, and which was influenced by the Freinet pedagogy. His contribution in this respect can be understood, in a contextualised way in the exhibition Un sitio para pensar [A place to think] that Artium (Vitoria-Gasteiz) recently inaugurated on 21 January.

His participation in founding the Gaur group in 1966 is undoubtedly one of the major milestones of his career, but no less so is the making of his film ...ere erera baleibu icik subura arauaren.... (1968-1970), the first feature film in the history of cinema painted directly onto celluloid. His incursions into experimental filmmaking are undoubtedly an important part of his contribution to the history of Basque art, and have led him to participate in numerous festivals (Oberhausen, London, New York, Paris, Brussels, etc.), including the San Sebastian International Film Festival (in 1989 he presented Impresiones en la alta atmósfera, which is included in this exhibition).

His works can be found in some of the best collections in our milieu: Bilbao Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basque Country, Artium Museoa , San Telmo Museum (Donostia/San Sebastián), the Kutxa Fundazioa collection, Charter Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, Banco de Bilbao, Banco Industrial de Bilbao, Caja Laboral Popular in Arrasate and Madrid; in the Queen Sofía National Museum Art Centre and in the Musée de la Cinemathèque Française in Paris.



Photography © Juantxo Egaña



Free guides tours


Every Saturday


17:30 Basque / 18:30 Spanish

Whit prior booking: in the gallery, T 943 251939,  or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Round table Educational Practices and the Audiovisual Medium. José Antonio Sistiaga and his context, 1957-1979

10 March, 18:00 hrs. Kutxa Kultur Plaza (Tabakalera, 4th floor)


Rocío Robles-Tardío, Sergio Rubira and Mikel Onandia, curators of the exhibition Un sitio para pensar. Experimental art schools and educational practices in the Basque Country, 1957-1979.

Activity run jointly with the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basque Country, Artium Museum.

In Spanish. Free of charge with compulsory registration online.



Screening of the film...ere erera baleibu izik subua aruaren... (1968-1970), by José Antonio Sistiaga

6 May, 19:00hrs. Tabakalera Cinema (1st floor)


35 mm hand-painted film. 75 minutes, silent

Activity run jointly with the Filmoteca Vasca (Basque Film Library)


Tickets on sale at the usual locations in Tabakalera





De rerum natura


Price: 40 € (VAT included)

Languages:Basque, Spanish, English and French
Texts: Jean-Michel Bouhours and Esther Ferrer









Descard here  the guide of exhibition








Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basque Country, Artium Museoa

Os agradeceremos que, cuando sea posible, hagáis esa modificación.