Critics’ Picks

Ander Sagastiberri, Untitled, 2021, oil on canvas, 5 x 4".

Ander Sagastiberri, Untitled, 2021, oil on canvas, 5 x 4".


Ander Sagastiberri

Fundación BilbaoArte Fundazioa
Urazurrutia, 32
November 5–November 26, 2021

The question posed by the title of Ander Sagastiberri’s solo exhibition “I Do Have Seen Some Objeto Volador No Identificados Do You?” looms over the twenty-one untitled paintings like a garbled transmission from outer space. The disorienting effect of the wonky half-translation extends to the work itself, which is vexingly shrunken. Most of the paintings are the size of mock artworks for a dollhouse or museum model, ranging in height from a few inches to no more than nine. Their scale demands extreme proximity from the viewer, lending the elaborate compositions a pressurized intensity. Sagastiberri’s nearsighted brushwork yields tender and surprising clashes of color, as blinking halos of pink and yellow flicker in swampy mists of green and brown. Various forms evoke a range of associations, from the swooping petallike shapes and celestial orbs of American Southwest spiritual abstraction, to the deranged bestiary of Cobra group paintings, to Impressionist still lifes in inverted hues. One tiny canvas depicts a bouquet of extraterrestrial flowers blooming in radioactive violet, like a Martian van Gogh.

Sagastiberri’s close encounters channel the familiar pastoral scenes of northern Spain as well. The show’s single large-format painting is also its most recognizably figurative. It features a beefy, grinning head topped with a traditional Basque txapela. The serpentine body slithers down the canvas into a pair of stiletto heels. This jolly androgynous shepherd sits at the center of the room, orbited by those tiny portals of color, which dot the white walls like odd animals grazing in distant meadows.