Jose Pablo Arriaga

The art created by the Basque artist Jose Pablo Arriaga might best be described as an expressive testimony, a testimony based on his personal experiences, adventures and interactions with the social and political world as well as with nature. Unveiling provoked emotional states and stirring questions that resulted from those personal experiences, Jose Pablo Arriaga invites the observer to enter into a dialogue and to start questioning oneself. While no piece intends to offer a simple answer to any political or social phenomenon, his work clearly calls for a rising social awareness of occurring injustices.

Grown up in an artisan craftsman family manufacturing typical Basque wooden chests, Jose Pablo Arriaga has widened his artistic skills in Bilbao and continued his professional formation at the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. While his art allows him to liberate and communicate what he feels inside, his other passions, such as traveling, sailing, and being in an intense and direct touch with his surrounding, cultures and nature, have sensitized his consciousness for the social, political and natural world and deeply influence his worldview. The captivating stories of his encounters and experiences finally find a very authentic and stirring way of expression in his meaningful artwork.

His sailing-trip from Spain along the coast of Africa clearly represents one of these very important experiences, which influenced his worldview and shaped his artwork until today. The months he passed on the boat just by himself surrounded by waves and confronted with the force of the ocean have strengthened his call for respect of nature with its power – a recurring theme in his work. Another repeated theme in his art collections probably stems from the time he suffered shipwreck near Senegal. During this time, he saw himself confronted with an unjust political system and unequal social structures and he became witness of human suffering, arbitrariness and injustice. These experiences strongly influenced and sensitized his political and social perspective with regards to the global society, political systems and human dignity.

While every collection puts a spotlight on one experience in particular, all his experiences have clearly shaped his general philosophy, which finally form the golden thread throughout his entire artwork: The dynamic element of hope that lives in every one of his pieces. It is hope, which is based on his strong believe in the invincible forces inherent in a state of balance and respect – between nature and human beings, as well as in our social world, as a respectful harmony between human beings. Arriaga ́s pieces offer an alternative to the wide-spread mentality of closing one ́s eyes to create a world of well- being and relaxation. Jose Pablo Arriaga invites the observer to face the reality of the world around us, reminds us of our inner intuitions and longings for justness and calls for an awakening and engagement by trusting the force of this justness. Therefore, even though his artwork is made of tough materials like (acrylic) stone, cement or wood, none of his pieces seems static. The proper dynamic moment inherent in every single piece creates a tension and reveals this invincible force, which strives for liberation from injustices, and which characterizes Arriaga ́s work.

All in all, the artwork created by Arriaga could be called an artistic and aesthetic manifestation of a creative, hopeful and meanwhile socio-critical lifestyle.