Born in Bermeo, Vizcaya, on the 6th May 1924, this artist began his painting career in France. During the Spanish Civil War he lived in exile in St. Jean de Luz, Paris and Aix-en-Provence, France, until, in 1941, he took a ship to Argentina, where he settled in Buenos Aires in 1942. Here his training was self-taught, going into advertising drawing and holding his first exhibitions. In 1952 he returned to Spain and settled in Madrid. There he won a tender for the mural paintings in the crypt of the Aranzazu basilica. However, these murals were subsequently prohibited and removed, as they did not please the church authorities. He supported progressive artistic concepts, being the co-founder of the Equipo 57 team and, together with Jorge Oteiza, the Equipo Forma team of Barcelona. He was a member of the GAUR Artistic Group, together with Jorge de Oteiza, Ruiz Balerdi, Mendiburu and Chillida, amongst others. The Gaur Group came into being more as a political than an aesthetic manifesto, calling for the revival of the former Basque school and for its renewal with young, emerging artists emerging and who had no voice in the intellectual climate of the time. He subsequently returned to the Basque Country and set up his workshop in a rural house in Fuenterrabía. His commitment to Basque culture led him to create scenographies (Saski Naski), to direct short films (Pelotari and Alquezar), long films (Ama Lur) and to dedicate much of his work to sculpture, an activity which he started in 1959. He has now dedicated fifty years to sculptural plastics, and is currently one of the leading figures in Spanish sculpture and is highly acclaimed at an international level. In 1973 he presented the exhibition entitled «Serie cosmogónica vasca», at the Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao, the San Telmo Museum in San Sebastian and the Citadel of Pamplona. He went on to hold countless exhibitions, with particular mention of the Anthological Exhibition held in the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Arts in 1987, and the «Basterretxea: antologíca» held in the Montehermoso Cultural Centre of Vitoria-Gasteiz. In 1971 he was awarded First Prize in the 2nd Sculpture Biennial of San Sebastian. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and was, for a short space of time, Regional Minister for Culture in the Basque Government. He is also honorary citizen of Bermeo. As an artist, he has dedicated particular attention to public sculpture, installing his works in a number of places in the Basque Country.
Sources of information:
GÓMEZ, S., «Un rito celta abrirá a medianoche los Encuentros sobre Brujología», Diario de Noticias, 24 de Septiembre 1986.MARTÍN CRUZ, S., «Exposiciones de Goya y Basterretxea en los Encuentros de Brujología», Diario de Navarra, 7 de Noviembre 1986.ARTAMENDI MUGUERZA, J. A., «El arte de Néstor Basterretxea Arzadun», en Revista Internacional de estudios Vascos., nº 31. San Sebastián, Eusko Ikaskuntza, 1986.«Nueva escultura en la Ciudadela», Diario de Navarra, 10 de Marzo 1987.ALVAREZ MARTINEZ, Mª S., «Basterretxea y Ugarte en la escultura vasca de vanguardia», Boletín de la Real Sociedad Vascongada de Amigos del País. Tomo 48 (II-IV). 1992.MUEZ, M., «Basterretxea muestra su obra en Pamplona mientras ultima una escultura para la UPNA», El País, 9 de Abril 2003. Una obra de Néstor Basterretxea engrosa el patrimonio artístico de la UPNA, Diario de Navarra, 2003ko ekainaren 12a.