“My father’s dream continues. If he were in a position to see what Oma Forest has become today, I’m sure he would have loved it. And I’m also sure that he would have liked to continue painting here,” he confessed. the son of Agustín Ibarrola, also the artist José Ibarrola, to open in the reclaimed Oma Forest, which is open starting tomorrow, Saturday, to the public and is a continuous plot of Kortezubi’s original. The official opening was made by the general deputy of Bizkaia, Elixabete Etxanove, who was accompanied by relatives of the artist, the regional head of culture, Leixuri Arrizabalaga, and the UPV-EHU professor, Fernando Bazeta, who leads the multidisciplinary team of forest migration managers painted by Agustín Ibarrola and made by the Provincial Council of Vizcaya.
The forest is alive, but like all living things, it also weakens and dies. Their artistic groups were affected by discoloration due to ultraviolet rays and loss of skin, as well as the growth of the forest itself. In 2014, the Bizkaia Provincial Council tried to revive it by restoring some of the 400 painted trees, but five years later, the plague affected the famous pine It infected 80% of the group. The artistic space created by Agustín Ibarrola must be closed.
The regional institution launched a job mobility project in a space adjacent to the current Basobarri, a 10-hectare pine forest close to the original four. The choice of this location is the result of a long study of up to 27 possibilities, where its orography and the distribution of trees are analyzed to respect the original work as much as possible.
In September 2022, the first phase of painting was completed, where fourteen artistic groups were created with a total of 454 decorated trees. The second part of the transfer work began in April 2023 and continued until the end of summer with the painting of 19 artistic sets and the completion of 34 artistic groups that make up Oma Forest.
“The action taken has withdrawn a work of art that transcends our borders until it became one of the cultural icons of Bizkaia,” said Elixabete Etxanobe, who also emphasized that it was a pioneering performance. “This is the first time that a process of these characteristics is carried out: the migration of a work of art in nature to another place while maintaining the concept and spirit of the work, as well as facilitating the interpretation of paintings, because now there are many tools available to better understand the work, to interpret it, and to enjoy it, so that the Oma experience is fuller and more enriching.”
The task is not easy: “The most difficult thing is to find the sets so that they express the same feeling as the forest,” chosen by the artist, explains Fernando Bazeta, who leads this project.
In the new forest, there are about 800 trees—300 more than in the original forest. One of the challenges is adapting to the orography to maintain similar perspectives and ways of looking at work. The used paint, which does not damage and does not penetrate beyond the bark of the trees, must be manufactured only for the project.
Staring eyes, rays caught in brushes, rainbows…
Agustín Ibarrola He started painting his pine trees in 1982 and continued to do so every day until 2000. It is a work of 18 years in which he gave life to a magical space around Kortezubi in figurative and abstract scenes.
The artist revealed that he often walks in the forest early in the morning and finds people who “come to watch the sunrise, with the bright mists.” Some of these figures also appear in the leaf forest, such as boys and girls who meet him while he works or animals he finds on the trails. Lightning is also caught between the artist’s brushes and eyes that seem to be watching the guests. A Rainbow, named after one of her grandchildren, Naiel, has become one of the most photographed of the artist’s compositions due to its composition and color.
Additionally, to complete some unfinished native forest sets, four that were lost at different times of life in the forest were recovered. Among them were Homage to the Oak, the Mosque of Córdoba, and Nuclear Threat, which disappeared due to cutting down.