Cántico espiritual (Spiritual Chant) is the title of the Eduardo Chillida (San Sebastián, 1924-2002) exhibition, held in the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos. It features works related to the monk, mystic and Castillian poet San Juan de la Cruz (1524-1591), the subject of over 30 works by Chillida, who began the series in honour of the saint in 1991, the year that marked the 400th anniversary of his death. An expert on his poetry, Chillida considered himself a religious man with a profound faith in God and mankind, establishing a link between matters of faith and the problems faced by artist. His conception of space has a spiritual and philosophical dimension, and he also tirelessly wrote verses in drawings and on cards; many of his drawings show the landscapes described by the poet. Johann Sebastian Bach is the other central figure in Chillida's image of the world as his spaces take on musical and spiritual dimensions references to both figures.
Chillida, one of the international reference points in 20th century Spanish art, began studying architecture in Madrid, which he abandoned after a few years and started drawing in the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid as well as focussing on his sculptures - characterised by their integration in open spaces, thus becoming part of them. Throughout his life, Chillida participated in hundreds of exhibition around the world and received countless awards, for instance the Principe de Asturias in 1987 and the Imperial Prize of Japan in 1991. Furthermore, he was also named honorary member of the Academy of Arts in Madrid, Boston and New York. Chillida's work is shrouded in mystery, with figurations of space and time, astonishment and the open-ended questions. His empty spaces possess multiple vibrations, silent worlds full of melodies and ideas where forms overlook limits and are propelled towards the invisible.
Twenty of the approximately fifty pieces - using diverse materials and formats - make up the exhibition in homage to San Juan de la Cruz. This Chillida exhibit is in addition to the one held by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in 1998, entitled Chillida 1948-1998, and offers a more intimate and spiritual vision of the artist, whereby the works on display lead the viewer towards his particular way of understanding space and its limits, evoking introspection and meditation.