With works in 25 countries to date, the painter and sculptor Carlos Ciriza Vega (Estella/Pamplona – Spain, 1964), married and father of seven children, is one of Navarre’s most internationally acclaimed artists.
In his early years, he developed his work on the basis of reflections akin to the ideas of Richard Serra, Julio González, Chirino, Henry Moore, Chillida and Oteiza. In the case of the last two, his proximity was as much geographical as it was in the very spirit that inspired his art, space having established itself as an essential and indispensable element of 20th/21st-century sculpture.
The artist started out working with wood and stone before refining his style and focusing on iron as the main material for his sculptures.
In 1989, he joined the Association of Spanish Writers and Artists, founded in Madrid in 1872, and, together with other artists, created the “El Punto” group, which brought together painters and sculptors with a wide range of artistic styles.
The career which Carlos Ciriza has built over more than 30 years points towards a continuous quest, an on-going investigation of the infinite possibilities which the relationship between subject, volume, space, void and balance affords.
His painting shares a common thread with sculpture. The artist harmoniously captures on murals, slate, canvas and paper volumetric forms and fragments, which he combines with masses of colour and spaces on different planes. Close to nature, poetry and music, his paintings are chiefly inspired by his thoughts, emotions and personal experiences.
In 1992, he travelled to New York, where he completed a series of paintings and works which were warmly received and met with great critical success. These works consisted of schematic representations of his impressions of the city. Their language, in which shape and colour predominated, was marked by extreme visual impact.
He has specialized in the installation of monumental sculptures for public and private spaces (the last one measuring 23 metres in height), which blend in with the architecture around them and the urban and natural environments in which they are set (parks, squares, roundabouts, green areas and highways). He has made some eighty large-scale sculptures, now installed in Spain, Europe and America.
In 1986, he won the first prize in sculpture and painting in the Government of Navarre’s “Second Visual Arts Competition for Young Artists”, and represented Navarre in the “National Visual Arts Competition for Young Artists”, run by the Youth Institute.
In 1987, he earned the third prize in sculpture in Pamplona City Council’s “Third Young Artists Competition of Pamplona”. In 1991, he was nominated for the “Estellés of the Year” award in Estella (Navarre). In 1992, he won second prize (silver medal) in the international competition “L’Ecologia, Ambiente e Natura” in Salerno (Italy). In 1999, he was finally named “Estellés of the year”, a recognition awarded by the media of Estella (Navarre) and its local district. In 2001, one of his works was selected for the “Third Sculpture Prize of Navarre”. In 2002, he received the “Prix d ‘Excellence’ at the Foire-Exposition in Montargis (France). In 2003, the Société Académique Arts-Sciences-Lettres of Paris awarded him its Silver-gilt Medal and Diploma in recognition of his artistic and professional career. In 2006, Barañáin Town Council’s Historical, Artistic and Cultural Heritage Committee accepted his bid for the sculpture project “Abrazo entre los Pueblos” (Embrace between Peoples) and the execution of two large-scale sculptures for installation in Barañáin (Navarre) and Caimito de Guayabal (Cuba).
He was a member of Navarre’s Council of Culture (a consultative and advisory body of the Government of Navarre’s Department of Education and Culture from the beginning of 1996 to the end of 1999) and President of the Artistic and Cultural Activity Committee.
In 1999, he was invited to represent Spain in the 12th International Weeks of Painting, Slovenia, alongside other notable European artists: Ashot Bayandour, Mario Benedetti, Gustav Gnamus, Matjaz Gruden, Andrej Jemec, Tommy Lydon, Valentin Oman, Rudi Benétik, Hamlet Housepyan, Anna Löbner, Richard Nott, Jann Räisäen and Sasä Kladnik.
In 2000, the publisher Jimenez Godoy brought out a panoramic biographical book on Carlos Ciriza, painter and sculptor, with contributions from 35 writers and 22 photographers. The book, published in English, French, German and Spanish, is 548 pages long and contains 586 colour illustrations. He took part in the “Sixth International Congress on European Culture” the same year.
In 2007, one of his sculptures was listed as an object of National Heritage and installed in the garden of the Zarzuela Palace, the residence of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain. That year saw the publication of the book “Carlos Ciriza in focus: Photographic Perceptions of his Work”, in which 25 photographers reflected their own personal visions of the artist’s creations.
Between 2003 and 2006, Ciriza built an ambitious sculpture trail, the unique and rare nature of which makes it particularly relevant; “Los Símbolos del Camino” (The Symbols of the Way), an artistic route set out on top of another, the Way of St James in Navarre.
In 2011 to mark the 25th anniversary of his first ever exhibition (1986-2011), a major exhibition of his work was held and a 178-page book was published containing 344 photographs from different stages of his artistic career and texts by 35 different contributors, including art critics, curators, the chancellors of different universities, professors, journalists, museum directors, representatives of the diplomatic corps and several members of the authorities.
With numerous awards and recognitions under his belt, and having represented Spain on more than one occasion, he has been named an Honorary Knight of the Order of the Divine Pig (2009), Honorary Knight of the Order of the Olive of Navarre and Toast of Arroniz (2016) and, more recently, Honorary Member of the Brotherhood of Navarra Wine (2017) and Golden Cockerel of the Napardi Society in Pamplona (2017), joining the select group of individuals and institutions that have received the honour, including the Pamplona Choral Society, Miguel Induráin, Miguel de la Quadra Salcedo and Ángel Argal, President of Medicus Mundi Internacional.
In the autumn of 2016, the airline Luftansa and its subsidiary Germanwings invited the artist to take part in a restricted international call for proposals for a memorial to the victims of Flight 4U9525 to be installed in Prads-Haute-Bléone/Le Vernet in the French Alps.
Ciriza has also designed numerous award sculptures, including the one for “Camino Real”, which King Felipe VI presented to the actor Antonio Banderas in recognition of his work promoting Spain in North America.
To date, he has had 112 solo exhibitions and taken part in 96 group exhibitions.
His sculptures and pictures can be found in many museums, parks and public and private collections, and have featured in numerous books and catalogues. He has also been the subject of numerous articles in newspapers and magazines in different countries.
His works have been exhibited in several Museums and Institutions, including Museo de Navarra; Museo Gustavo de Maeztu; Fundación Fermín Etxauri; Historisches Rathaus, Paderborn, Germany; Museu Modernista CAN Prunera Sóller, Mallorca; The Institute of Hispanic Culture in Houston, Texas; Museo Jorge Rando in Málaga; Museo Federico Silva de Escultura Contemporánea in San Luis Potosí, Mexico; Fundación del Colegio de Arquitectos de Madrid COAM and the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.
Also in galleries such as the Ambrogi/Castanier Gallery, West Hollywood, California; Lurie Fine Art, Florida; Miami Art and Design District; Murnau Art Gallery, Seville; Gallery Saint Germain in Los Angeles; Galeria d,art Gabriel Vanrell, Palma de Mallorca; Gallerie Ambrogi-Tonachella, Saint Tropez, France; Fabien Cartanier Gallery, Los Angeles; Schlosspark Neuhaus (Gewölbesaal), Paderborn, Germany; Deborah Colton Gallery and Hans Payan Art Gallery in Houston, Texas; Schüppenhauuer Art + Projects, Cologne, Germany; Galerie Kunstbunker (Mönchengladbach) and Stefan Vogdt Galerie in Munich, Germany.
Works in: Germany, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Canada, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, United Arab Emirates, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Venezuela, Philippines, Finland, France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Andorra, Switzerland, Uruguay, Greece, Australia and the USA.
He is currently working on various commissions and monumental projects in Mexico, Germany and the United States, a country which he visits on a frequent and regular basis.
As Alejandra Coello de Portugal Erhardt states in one of the publications on the artist, Ciriza seeks out and enjoys silence in every sense; he is a tireless worker and traveller who is reluctant to give interviews and attend public events.
An honest, coherent, respectful artist, he prefers to share his creations and let his works speak and dialogue with the viewer for themselves within that international outlook which spans the globe.
His greatness and universality lies in his integrity as a sculptor and painter, always true to himself, oblivious to affectation and free of any passing fads which might confine his work. Carlos Ciriza invites us to look with the eyes of the heart, the memory and the soul. These “inner” eyes have the ability to see beyond, to ground us on the form and the subject matter, to take the leap towards more profound aesthetic experiences.
José María Muruzábal del Solar
Doctor in Art History
Graduate in Philosophy and Arts
from the University of Navarra
Exhibition curator, Cataloguer
and Author of numerous publications and articles.