Biography of Mario Irarrázabal (1940-VVVV)

Chilean sculptor, born in Santiago on November 26, 1940, one of the representatives of this artistic discipline that greater international recognition has achieved in the last decades of the century outside the borders of his country. He is the author of an extensive and varied sculptural work, which highlights his giant hands work, work in cement.

Mario Irarrázabal made his senior United States training, studying philosophy and art at the University of Notre Dame (1959-1964), a center where he also graduated in fine arts. Between 1965 and 1968 he studied theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, and last year moved to Germany, where the influence of the sculptor Waldemar Otto was decisive in his determination to devote itself entirely to the art, both in the creative aspect, which premiered with the Kiss (1967) bronze sculpture, as in the teaching. In regard to this last, in 1972 he became Professor of art at the Catholic University of Chile, and from 1975, in the University of Santiago. In 1975 he became known internationally after obtaining the prize of honour of the II biennial Valparaiso art; in 1978 he won the IV national contest of young values, and in 1983 received a scholarship to work at the Haus Worpswede, Bremen (Germany) workshop, experience which served to cement its international prestige. In 1995 he was one of the co-founders of the Chilean Association of sculptors, institution of which he was appointed director.

The work of Irarrázabal presents one wide variety of both with respect to the subject matter as in the materials employed, ranging from metal, bronze, iron, aluminum, wood, stone and cement. This variety is the result of an artistic evolution that had its beginnings at the end of the 1960s with the representation of human figures that are distorted and adopt odd positions: are vehicles of transmission of a strong expressiveness, result of his interest in topics as love, suffering, or death. The experience of the military dictatorship marked a change in the subject matter, that went on to have major socio-political implications, change that since the end of the 1970s also affected his style, which in formal terms went to seek simplification; It is then when developed his famous giant hands, a series of sculptures located in Chile and other cities around the world. Hands, daunting, the Venice measuring six meters high, cause the original effect of seem arising directly from the Earth, and underscore the influence that had the sculptures of Easter Island, which he visited in 1977. In the 1990s Irarrázabal resumed his interest in the human figure and performed several installations of objects, which included 33 horses 44 children chairs and rockers.

In addition to the above awards, Irarrázabal won the contest Punta del Este (Uruguay, 1982), the national contest of sculpture for the headquarters of the UN in Kenya (1985), the first prize of sculpture of the VIII biennial of art in Valparaiso (1987), the first prize of sculpture of homage to the Mapuche people (1988), and the first prize of the contest of sculpture of the Tacas (1995). Giant hands are displayed outdoors in Chile, Atacama desert and sculpture park; as in Europe, Madrid and Venice; and Africa, Nairobi. Also, four of his works are part of the collection of the National Museum of fine arts of Santiago.