One of the most admirable traits of an artist is their ability to use anything as a medium. For Andoni Bastarrika, a multimedia artist from Basque Country, Spain, he found that sand was the best material to express his creativity. While most of us feel really proud of ourselves after building a sandcastle on the beach, Andoni has us all beat with his magnificent sand sculptures.
His works focus on creatures of the natural world, such as bulls and sharks. Andoni’s creations look incredibly realistic, that anyone who sees them—especially from afar—would think they’re real!
The artist first tried his hand at sand art in the summer of 2010, when he was at the beach with his two daughters. He made them a sculpture of a little mermaid, and that’s when he discovered his gift: the “fluidity” of his hands.
In a conversation with Bored Panda, he said: “They knew what they were doing. I devoted myself to developing this gift and have spent the last 10 years doing just that.”
It’s evident that he’s done a fantastic job of improving this skill based on his outstanding sand sculptures. In a Facebook post, he explained why he’s continued to work with sand in the past decade.
“The sand fascinates me because no matter how you look at it, it will always teach you things if you are willing to learn. 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.”
Although there are many reasons he adores sand as a medium, Andoni says this is probably the main one: its behavior.
“To create a beautiful world, we should all embrace each other just as tightly,” he said.
He also likes making animal sculptures out of sand because they’re “free spirits” from which humans can “reflect and learn from.”
“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,” he added.
His creation process starts with piling up moist sand and shaping it as he tries to find the expression that will bring it to life. Once he’s got it, he uses a sharpened stick and a feather to emphasize its expression. Sometimes, he incorporates other materials such as coal powder, clay powder, stone powder of different color, ashes, and glass shards to add an element of realism to his work.
The time it takes for him to complete one piece depends on its size. For example, he spent two days finishing the elephant sculpture and 12 hours completing the bison and the horse. The dogs, which are smaller, take about six to eight hours.
Check out the gallery below to see more of Andoni Bastarrika’s amazing sand sculptures!