by: José Berrocoso //
Art, history and nature in a unique medieval setting.
There are many amazing places to discover throughout Spain. Otazu is definitely one of them. The medieval village is not only still inhabited today, but also showcases a few ancient buildings that attest to the passage of so many centuries, making history always present.
Located just 8 km away from Pamplona, surrounded by the sierra del Perdón and sierra del Sarbil, and naturally delimited with the Arga river, Otazu is home to inspiration. In fact, wherever you look, there is inspiration.
The Romanesque Church of San Esteban, from the 12th Century, located in the heart of the Señorío de Otazu and proof of the passage of the pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela, was the first stone of this natural amphitheater. Currently you can visit the pigeon tower from the 14th Century, one of the many medieval defense towers there used to be in the sierra de Etxauri and Pamplona.
The ancient Palace and Señorío de Otazu, belonged in its origins to the noble lineage of the Yániz and then passed to the Ezpeleta, and was also in the hands of the Marquis de Góngora. Today it’s home to Guillermo Penso’s family and friends.
Penso, CEO of Bodega Otazu and patrón of the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, established ‘Fundación Otazu’ in 2016 aiming to promote and manage art activities such as fellowships and artist’s residencies, from this millenary Señorío.
Three decades earlier, his family bought this beautiful location linked to the wine industry since the 12th Century. The old cellar, a magnificient building dating back from 1840, is now turned into a musem, hosting important pieces from Spanish artists such as Manolo Valdés, José Guerrero or Baltasar Lobo, combined with contemporary masterworks of artists such as Liam Gillick or Leandro Erlich. But the collection is also spred throughout the landscape. There is a sculpture park which communicates in harmony with nature.
All of the Foundation’s activities are aimed to reinforce the interest of the family, giving back to society through knowledge, art and education. Establishing the Foundation within the property of the winery also helps to understand the dialogue between nature, art and industry, all three aspects basic in human inspiration throughout history.
The art collection is made from artists that create art with the purpose of communicating and creating knowledge and new ways of seeing reality and the world through metaphor, metonym, abstraction, imitation or action.
‘Valkirias de Otazu’ by Leandro Elrich
Art and music, installation and performance come together in Valkirias de Otazu, the large-scale piece created by the Argentinian artist, Leandro Elrich.
Visually they look like coloured fences arranged consecutively, but they hide 80 perfectly tuned aluminum cylinders that reproduce one of the most celebrated stanzas of Wagner’s masterpiece: the cavalcade of the Valkyries of the third act of Die Walküre. The installation therefore functions as a silent music box, which is not activated until the viewer decides to hit the wall of sound metal tubes. “It is a piece whose title is an instruction for the public and a wish for the artist. Call the action and work only when running, that way the music is activated and the work makes sense,” explains the artist himself.
‘Untitled 2014’ by Anish Kapoor
Kapoor’s ‘Untitled 2014’ is a bright red fiberglass sphere in the vein of his spherical sculptures that show a distorted reflection of the viewer.
‘Ariadna’ by Manolo Valdés
Created by Spanish artist Manolo Valdés, ‘Ariadna’ is a tribute to the Greek Goddess, Ariadne, the immortal wife of the wine-god Dionysos.