Nature inspires him. The tree is his preferred material. The sculptor nurtures its strength by treating it with respect. The fallen trunk from the Basque forests is often left with the marks of its growth and decay. The eroded heart is left hollow, the stumps bear witness to cut branches.

However the remains are magnified by the work of an artist who loves wood, its material, its suppleness and its colour. Zigor accompanies the natural form by destroying as little as possible the work of the sap and its scars. But he transforms nature and gives it a new essence. Oak, plane trees, chestnut and more rarely cypress trees bear witness to the growth of a particular land, delivering a new message. The recomposed tree opens up doors which lead to earthly paths and metaphysical questioning.

Zigor sculpts and finishes the work in communion with plant life, the eye discovering shapes which speak to the mind. If the chisel ill-treats, it is to find an expression suggested by the tree in accordance with the world’s pantheist wealth. Light qualifies with its many variations the construction resulting from the initial chaos. But the world’s unity is only sensitive to the human brain in search of truth and in passing beauty.

Nature’s physical and intellectual approach is introduced through numerous walks in the mountains, the forest and by the sea. Plant life sometimes imitates mineral life and the artist discovers the uncertain shapes of piles of pebbles on the beach or in the torrent, stones rounded by the polishing action of the water and precariously balanced. Man intervenes in the march of time by periodically cutting wood, cleaning what is destroyed by storms and fire, braking branches and arranging nature.

As we walk through the mountains, we discover stones pilled up in mounds by man’s hand, cairns. Zigor juxtaposes different pieces of wood sculpted into skilful balances.

Wood evokes stone, but the material is also transformed into a living being. Creatures of the air, more than man, are the subject of transformation by Zigor. The fragile and perishable being, the butterfly or bird, is immortalised in the solid natural or created material: wood, stone and also metal. Thus Zigor’s latest monumental creation, the great bird at the mouth of the River Adour flaps its steel wings as energetically as the cormorant on the beach. A twisting effect sets in motion the immense metal mass which inherits the bird’s dexterity, simply perched on its base.

Zigor is a poet. He writes in the Basque language and names things in his own way in a protohistoric euskara. After the “Kerne” from Basque oak, we now have “Harpea” the primitive cave and the hand which draws on the wall, the immense “Eskua” sculpted from the Arcangues plane tree.

In 2002 we wrote that Eskua is man’s founding hand, a feverish hand, open, then closed, with a secret palm, smooth skin but a rough hide, with fingers stretched, mysterious, capable (guilty) of instilling both nightmare and joy. The artist transforms with his hand and suggests fire which crackles “Su eta gorputzak”, the wood enflamed by the place’s spirit, “Zuhaitz” or the leaded transmutation of wood. The sculptor makes us believe he works on wood with the same ease as fire from the furnace melts metal in the mould.

Zigor invents mythology, “when man looks at the tree, he sees space and joins time” he writes. Loyal to his roots, Zigor uses them to go forward, further and stronger. He confronts the ocean storm and places the bird of freedom, more beautiful for having taken the adventure of life to the haven.



Olivier Ribeton
Curator of the Basque & Bayonne History Museum