The Basonda and Oma valleys, situated on the banks of the River Oka in the UNESCO listed Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, combine as a scenic and beautiful area to hike and stroll. However, there is more than just beautiful scenery to enjoy in this lovely spot. An artist has made a landscape here, unlike any other.
Located to the northeast of the small town of Kortezubi, the Forest of Oma has been made into a magical landscape by Basque artist, Agustín Ibarrola. This is one of his best-known works and is an example of what has been dubbed “land art,” a creative trend started in the 1960s which literally takes art into nature and uses the countryside as its frame and medium.
According to a Spanish travel blog, the artist took to the trees, quite literally, painting shapes and figures in colors of every hue. Walking through this forest, the patterns and figures painted on the trees change as you move and while some of the paintings are on one single tree, others are spread over several, making one view them as a whole and varying depending on the direction from which they are viewed.
Ibarrola created this work of art so that it changes and transforms in this way, making every visitor to the forest a protagonist of the artist’s work, with everyone seeing these gorgeous scenes in a slightly different way.
As for the artist himself, Ibarrola was born in Basauri (Biscay) in 1930. His first attempts at art were purely self-taught, but in 1948, he received a grant that enabled him to travel to Madrid, the Spanish capital where he went further into art, exploring cubism and constructivism. His art of choice was to break away from the norm and produce what were termed as less pure, more social forms of art.
The art of the Forest of Oma is typical of his artistic outlook, where he produces public art to be shared with the people, and not hidden away in a museum or art gallery. He started this work in 1982 and Ibarrola says that the work represents the social reality, “the light that entered the forest and stayed there,” as well as “the eyes of our ancestors.”
The image above is a composite of three scenes within the forest and does not truly represent just how wonderful this artist landscape is in reality. Bizkaia.net offers a range of photos of the various parts of this magical forest and audio and visual guides to download prior to visiting.
When traveling to northern Spain, the Urdaibai estuary and Biosphere Reserve are a beautiful visit in themselves. However, make sure to take some time out for a visit to the magical and beautiful Forest of Oma.
In the meantime, enjoy a virtual tour of the Forest of Oma in the video included below.
Photos CC by-SA Danel Solabarrieta