If you’re an artist, everything is a medium. And for Andoni Bastarrika, that’s sand. That’s right, while most of us feel really good about ourselves after we build a castle at the beach, Bastarrika isn’t content with that. His works are much more ambitious, usually revolving around the natural world. From bulls to sharks and beyond, continue scrolling and check out some of the best creatures the artist has made. And yes, they aren’t just animals that he unearthed, Bastarrika really did sculpt them.
Bastarrika said that his artistic journey with sand began in the summer of 2010 on a beach with his two girls. The first sculpture he made was actually a little mermaid. Working on it allowed him to discover what he calls his gift — the ‘fluidity’ of his hands. “They knew what they were doing,” Bastarrika told Bored Panda. “I devoted myself to developing this gift and have spent the last 10 years doing just that.
“The sand fascinates me because no matter how you look at it, it will always teach you things if you are willing to learn,” he wrote on his Facebook account. “In order to create a sculpture, an unthinkable number of sand particles participate, hugging each other tightly through humidity, so that someone could model their union. And once the artist steps back, its piece will remain at the mercy of nature, meaning that sooner or later the wind will dry them up and release each particle, slowly consuming all the individuality and authenticity.”
According to Bastarrika, although there are a thousand reasons why he’s attracted to sand, this one is probably the main one. In fact, he even thinks that we humans should act like this. “To create a beautiful world, we should all embrace each other just as tightly.”
“There are a lot of reasons why I like to make animal sculptures as well, but one is the fact that animals are free spirits,” Bastarrika explained, adding that animals are not only unique and beautiful but bearers of great wisdom as well. “Humans can reflect and learn from them.
“Then, there’s the nudity they bring with themselves to this world at birth which they keep until their death. That nudity — at least to me — symbolizes freedom, the essential ingredient to being able to truly live. Humans ‘overdress’ to survive in a lot of ways. I have never made nor will I make an animal with a necklace or chains. I prefer to embrace their freedom, power, and wisdom through beauty rather than a form of suffering.”
The actual creation process goes something like this: Bastarrika piles up moist sand and starts shaping it, trying to find its expression, the movement that will bring it to life. After finding it, he uses a sharpened stick and a feather to deepen that expression and to transmit life into it. He also sometimes uses other materials like ashes, coal powder, clay powder, stone powder of different colors, glass shards, and so on.
“The time it takes to create one piece largely depends on its size,” Bastarrika explained. “The elephant, for example, took me 2 days, while the horse and the bison took 12 hours each. The dogs, which were smaller, needed about 6 to 8 hours.”