Sculptural intervention of Cristina Iglesias

A recipient of Spain’s National Visual Arts Award, Cristina Iglesias has designed a site-specific piece for the Botín Centre and the Pereda Gardens: Desde lo subterráneo (From the Underground), which features four pools and a pond in stone, iron and water.

The sculptural intervention features five structures in grey stone enclosing overlapping iron pieces forming hollow spaces. They evoke the subterranean, the things that exist beneath the surface. Phreatic zones, underground areas saturated with water, pockets of water filled with foliage and molluscs, life speaking of the primordial ocean that gave origin to all forms of life on Earth.

Subterranean nature appears in the abstract material growing in layers, strata that look like algae that might develop in an imaginary underwater garden protruding toward the surface. Abstraction. An interior garden. An illusion of constructed depth. Twists and turns.

You could sit on the edges of the triangles watching the rhythmic movement of water and listening to its incessant sound.
The pools are in the park, between the city and the sea. The horizon. Water moves at various paces generating different sequences. Time.

You appear from the trees on a garden path. An axis. It is higher. Leaning out. Three triangle-shaped pools delineate the curve of the plaza that stands under the building and surrounds it.
Being and looking. Listening. Listening to yourself.

Life and machine engage in conversation. Organic and mechanic forms are imagined in related ways, producing a kind of abstraction.
Finally, there is a shallow pond with a sloping bed that sends water into the sea, as if the fluid in all the pools flowed rhythmically into it.

The steps leading up to the building start here.
The installation invites visitors to walk through it. It is a walk.
From one place to another.
The order is not important, but there is a direction.
Recollections of what you see overlap with what comes later. Perceptions of abstract forms follow the same path.

Are they really what they seem to be?

Cristina Iglesias. Artist.

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Preparatory Drawings

Cristina Iglesias

San Sebastián, 1956

Cristina Iglesias was born in San Sebastián in November 1956. She studied Chemical Sciences in her home town (1976-1978) and then after a brief period in Barcelona practising ceramics and drawing, she studied Sculpture at the Chelsea School of Art in London, UK (1980-1982). Was granted a Fullbright scholarship to study at Pratt Institute, 1988 In 1995 she was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich (Germany) and in 1999 she won Spain’s National Visual Arts Prize. In 2012 she won the Grosse Kunstpreis Berlin . She has represented Spain twice at the Venice Biennale, at the 42nd edition in 1986 and at the 45th edition in 1993; at the Biennale of Sydney in 1990; at the Taipei Biennial in 2003; at the SITE Santa Fe Biennial in 2006 and at the Triennale of Folkstone in 2011. She also represented her country at the world fairs held in Seville in 1992 and Hanover in 2000, and at the 1995 Carnegie International, Museum of Art Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh.


Other Related Projects


The deep fountain (1997-2006)
Permanent installation in Leopold de Waelplaats, Antwerp
Polychrome concrete, resin and water
13.72 m x 32.88 m
Photo: Kristien Daem

The deep fountain

With its liquid surface, The deep fountain merges the fragmented space of the square. Once united, however, the mirror-like image vanishes when, almost imperceptibly, the pond empties and the water drains away towards the mysterious lower part of the plant surface in bas-relief, which forms a green bronze carpet created by an enormous accumulation of intertwined eucalyptus leaves. The bottom evokes the original chaos, particularly close to the centre, where the plant bed folds up over itself forming a crack through which the water alternately gushes and disappears into a kind of abyss. People crossing the square are attracted to the fountain, which provokes a mixture of calm and anguish.

Tres Aguas, 2014
Pieza permanente, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Toledo
Foto: Attilio Maranzano

Tres Aguas

With Tres Aguas, Cristina Iglesias actively reawakens this lost aesthetic relation to water.  As if the sculptural installations were awakening my unknown potential as a dowser, I found my senses now tuned to its underground presence. The Tagus surges underneath the paving stones of the plazas and the streets of Toledo: numerous, varied metal covers, some with classical images of the Tagus as a river god pouring water from an urn, mark the access to outlets and hydrants, connection points to standpipes and mains water supply; the stone pavements conceal differently shaped mouths where waste water drains back into the system. Iglesias’s sculptures concentrate the mind on our fragility and, in Toledo, the citizens’ interdependence with the river as its waters are controlled and raised from far down below.


Underwater rooms, 2010
Stainless steel and cement
14 lattice panels measuring 3.12m x 2.35m x 0.25m each
Permanent installation in Lower California, Mexico
Photo: Courtesy of the Mexican Foundation for Environmental Education

Underwater rooms, 2010

It is a creation installed at a depth of fifteen metres in the Sea of Cortés, in South Lower California, Mexico and uses the vocabulary that Iglesias had already incorporated in his previous lattice panels. Underwater Rooms is a piece surrounded by water on all four sides and covered in seaweed. There will come a time when the text itself, an extract from the play by the Jesuit priest and naturalist José de Acosta (1540-1600), a missionary in the New World, will be illegible, covered by the seaweed and sea creatures. However, in this case, the decline and transformation of the sculpture are intentional from the start. Located in a recently created nature reserve, over time the installation will become an attractive environment for fish and other sea creatures, many of which are already living in it.


Well V, (Variation 3) (Detail), 2011
Bronze powder, resin, stainless steel, mechanics and water
113cm x 187cm x 128cm
Installation Reina Sofía National Art Museum
Photo: Attilio Maranzano

Metonymy, 2011

Cristina Iglesias is enthusiastic about vegetation… Iglesias also reflects on space through plants. These are plant-related stories which awaken the curiosity of the artist and return us to an ordered nature. One of the most intriguing elements in the work of Iglesias is the well, which traces back to a whole range of popular traditions, full of significance and omens, as the folklorists know only too well. It is, firstly, the forbidden place, partly because at the bottom of it things happen that are impossible to explain. The fountain represents, in popular tradition, the place where it is impossible to peep, the abyss. Peeping at the well almost on tiptoe, in the way that Iglesias’ sculptures demand, is to lose yourself a little. However, the well, like the lattice panel, is also the representation of eroticism in popular culture.

Centro Botín

Albareda Dock no/d,

Peredas gardens

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