I have practically zero artistic talent, so I’m always ridiculously impressed by people who can create things with their hands. Painters, builders, and sculptors are awe-inspiring to me, and artist Andoni Bastarrika has completely blown my mind with his animal sand sculptures that are so lifelike, you almost think they’re real at first glance!
He didn’t start sculpting until 2010. Talking to Bored Panda, Bastarrika revealed that it was during a 2010 beach trip with his daughters that he realized he had a gift. He sculpted a mermaid out of sand for them and realized that he had a “fluidity” in creation that he’d never previously realized. “They knew what they were doing,” he said of his hands. “I devoted myself to developing this gift and have spent the last 10 years doing just that.”
Sand in particular is one of Bastarrika’s favorite mediums. While an unconventional canvas for many, the artist believes he gets something special from creating in this way. “The sand fascinates me because no matter how you look at it, it will always teach you things if you are willing to learn,” he explained on his Facebook account. “In order to create a sculpture, an unthinkable number of sand particles participate, hugging each other tightly through humidity, so that someone could model their union. And once the artist steps back, its piece will remain at the mercy of nature, meaning that sooner or later the wind will dry them up and release each particle, slowly consuming all the individuality and authenticity.”
He’s drawn to creating animal sand sculptures for a particular reason. “There are a lot of reasons why I like to make animal sculptures as well, but one is the fact that animals are free spirits,” Bastarrika said. He added that animals have wisdom to share too. “Humans can reflect and learn from them. Then, there’s the nudity they bring with themselves to this world at birth which they keep until their death. That nudity — at least to me — symbolizes freedom, the essential ingredient to being able to truly live. Humans ‘overdress’ to survive in a lot of ways. I have never made nor will I make an animal with a necklace or chains. I prefer to embrace their freedom, power, and wisdom through beauty rather than a form of suffering.”
I’ve never seen animal sand sculptures so impressively real and beautiful. The creations taking varying amounts of time depending on what Bastarrika is making. “The time it takes to create one piece largely depends on its size,” Bastarrika said. “The elephant, for example, took me 2 days, while the horse and the bison took 12 hours each. The dogs, which were smaller, needed about 6 to 8 hours.”
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