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Oma Painted Forest: A new connection between nature and art

David Goran

Oma forest is a work of art made by Agustin Ibarrola, a Basque sculptor, and painter. The forest is located in the Valley of Oma, in a forest near Kortezubi (Bizkaia, Basque Country), in the nature reserve of Urdaibai.

The forest is part od the Natural Reserve of Urdaibai. Simoncio-Own work,GFDL

The forest is part od the Natural Reserve of Urdaibai. Image by: Simonico-Own work/GFDL

 

This open-air artistic installation consists of a large group of trees, painted in totem-like figures. Simonico -Own work, GFDL

This open-air artistic installation consists of a large group of trees, painted in totem-like figures. Image by: Simonico -Own work/GFDL

Ibarrola started painting the trees of this forest in 1982. In a couple of years, he had achieved a collection of paintings that can be seen from different standpoints. He combined the techniques of rock painting out of the Paleolithic period with Land Art, an artistic movement which uses nature as the material with and on which to create something.

It connects with the Palaeolithic representations of the nearby cave of Santimamine. Danel Solabarrieta.Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0..

It connects with the Paleolithic representations of the nearby cave of Santimamine. Image by: Danel Solabarrieta/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

 

The art work on the trees is defined as Public art. Simonico-Own work, GFDL.,

The artwork on the trees is defined as Public art. Image by: Simonico-Own work/GFDL

Most of the painted figures are scattered around different trees, which are situated in different depths. Ibarrola created an enormous cloth that each visitor can move, playing with the perspective while walking. Therefore, for each visitor, there is a forest that exists in many different ways.

Visiting the Painted Oma Forest is an individual experience. Danel Solabarrieta.Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0

Visiting the Painted Oma Forest is an individual experience. Image by: Danel Solabarrieta/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Each painted three has its own name. Simonico-Own work,GFDL.

Each painted three has its own name. Image by: Simonico-Own work/GFDL

Throughout the Forest, there are small yellow circles with numbers on the spread. They’re there to show where to stand and in what direction to look to see all of the shapes and figures.

Eyes of the past and the present. Named by Iberrola. Simonico-Own Work,GFDL

Eyes of the past and the present. Named by Iberrola. Image by: Simonico-Own Work/GFDL

 

It is also known as Bosque Animado ( The Animated Forest). Simonico-Own work, GFDL, Simonico-Own work, GFDL

It is also known as Bosque Animado ( The Animated Forest). Images by: Simonico-Own work/GFDL, Simonico-Own work/ GFDL

It is like animation, the drawings are moving while the trees stand still. They give the impression of different geometric, anthropomorphic or animal forms. Sometimes the figure of a single tree is an entity in itself, while in other cases you need to observe a number of trees at once to understand the image. The underlying idea is to create a space for the contemplation of the relation between man and nature.

The perception of the figures changes depending on the point of observation and the figures transform themselves. Danel Solabarrieta.Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.,

The perception of the figures changes depending on the point of observation and the figures transform themselves. Image by: Danel Solabarrieta/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The life and work of the artist have always been a reflection of the social reality at any given time. Ibarrola is a member of “Basta Ya”, whose aim is to aid victims of terrorism. Some 100 trees of the natural reserve were destroyed in 2000 and Oma forest was damaged to protest his stand.