Spanish artist Pello Irazu, known for his sculptural works, is considered one of the key figures in the renewal of Basque sculpture since beginning his career in the 1980’s. Since the early 2000’s he has integrated photography into his practice, pressing on the distinction between two and three dimensionality in an effort to blur the boundaries that traditionally separate artistic genres. Irazu is interested in exploring the complex relationship between the viewer’s body, the artwork, and the space they both inhabit.
Irazu’s most recent work began with assemblages of wood blocks, cast aluminum forms, and cardboard boxes, painted and nailed together in geometric piles, balanced on ladders, or hung on the wall. Here, Irazu plays with textures and surfaces, as aluminum is painted to look like wood, or cardboard is coated in resin, leading to a sense of uncertainly within the viewer, for whom the constituent parts of the work remain deliberately unclear.
In his photographs of these sculptures, the camera is used as a flattening device, disrupting the space of the studio. Adding to the visual confusion, the artist includes strips of acrylic paint that often resemble wood grain, making the distinction of the foreground and the background difficult; the painted surface and the photograph. Working at the intersection of sculpture, painting, and photography, Irazu’s work ultimately leads us to question our perception of illusion and reality.
Pello Irazu was born in 1963 in Andoain, Spain, and he lives and works in Bilbao. He graduated in sculpture from the Basque Country University in Bilbao in 1986. He won the ICARO Prize for most outstanding young Spanish artist in 1988, and a Fulbright Award in 1990.
Irazu’s work has been exhibited in many major institutions including the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Moscow Museum of Modern Art; Joan Miro Foundation, Barcelona; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and Bass Museum of Art, Florida. Public collections that feature his work include Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona (MACBA); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; La Caixa Foundation, Barcelona; Museum of Modern Art, Vienna (mumok); and Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago.