Whether he creates large-scale installations, sculptures or drawings, Philip Aguirre y Otegui (°1961, Antwerp) has a unique and consistent visual language. His body of work is determined by a fascination for the simple beauty of everyday objects, other cultures and art history, combined with an intrinsic social engagement and humanism.
At one hand Aguirre collects and uses 'objets trouvés' to create intuitive sculptures following a technique one could call sculpture automatique – reminding of the surrealist technique 'écriture automatique'. Aguirre often strives to create sculptures that contain a perfect formal tension, comparable to the famous Spanish still lifes from the Baroque era. At the other hand, Aguirre creates sculptures that focus on the human figure. Most of the artist’s figurative sculptures contain a subtle or implicit social criticism and miss individual characteristics in order to communicate about 'la condition humaine' and mankind in a universal manner.
His body of work reflects a profound sense of human tragedy and an involvement with political events and global conflicts. The artist invites the viewer to reflect on contemporary issues such as colonial conflicts, exploitation and repression, the importance of water, migration and geopolitical issues. During the last 25 years, Aguirre has been working in Africa on a regular basis. His focus was on Senegal and Cameroon, where he presented the large-scale project "Théâtre Source" - an amphitheatre and village square build around a well in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Douala. For this project he collaborated with curator Koyo Kouoh, the actual artistic director of Zeitz Moca and received the International Award for Public Art in 2017.