Beast in the Basque

Flashback - 15 years ago. Family trip to Minneapolis. I am both intrigued and mesmerised by a sculpture of a cherry resting on a giant spoon outside of the Walker Art Centre. However, what really catches my attention is this massive steel structure. It's angular. It's abstract. This is the Weisman Art Museum designed by Frank Gehry.

Fast Forward - 10 years. I'm Backpacking in Europe. Venice. Italy. I enter my first ever Guggenheim. Pollock, Gorky, Kandinsky, Dali. All here. In a single building. From this day forward, I vow to visit ALL of the Guggenheims.

Flashback - 4 weeks ago. I am in Bilbao, Spain. "What's even in Bilbao?" they say. "Why wouldn't you just go to Barcelona or Madrid?" they ask.

To me, the answer is simple. Barcelona and Madrid do NOT have a Guggenheim museum designed by THE Frank Gehry...do they?

Next thing I know I am standing outside the flowing titanium clad tiles of the Guggenheim Bilbao on it's 20th anniversary weekend. The structure resembles the body of a ship, curving along the Nervión River as the sun's reflective rays create rippling waves along its exterior walls.

On one side stands Jeff Koon's flower garden terrier, Puppy. On the other lives Louise Bourgeois' Maman, the eight legged mammoth spider that evokes both fear and intrigue from the viewer.

Eleven thousand square meters of exhibition space forms over nineteen galleries. Glass walls flood the atrium with natural daylight. A network of walkways carry you from Warhol's One Hundred and Fifty Multicolored Marilyns to the dizzying steel spirals in Serra's The Matter of Time.

5 hours later - Still at the Guggenheim Bilbao... It's 9:30 pm and I'm standing alongside thousands of eager spectators opposite the river waiting for the main event. My spontaneous weekend trip has happened to land on the finale weekend of the Museum's XX Anniversary.

The structure's titanium sheets serve as a canvas for the incredible audio-visual display - Reflections. A dramatic 20 minute light show - accompanied by music - is projected onto Gehry's masterpiece, reflecting 20 years of Basque history and art (no pun intended!).

1 hour later. Sort of heading back to my hostel, but also turning back every few steps to catch one last glimpse of the show (which I may have already watched 3 consecutive times...).

Of the spectacle, the most memorable part was when Maman came to life. IMAGINE. The silhouette of a 30 foot arachnid spins a giant web that slowly starts entangling the museum's exterior, before scaling the entirety of the building. Ladies and gentlemen. If that is not impressive I do not know what is.

This weekend trip, although short and sweet, has inspired me more than ever to create.

What gallery inspires you?

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