The Oma Painted Forest Basque Country Northern Spain

There is nothing quite like an early morning stroll in a beautiful forest in the clean, fresh air, but this particular site truly took my breath away. The Oma Painted Forest is located in the heart of the UNESCO listed Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, close to the town of Kortezubi in Basque Country, Spain and is a hidden and artistic treasure. I had the pleasure of visiting the site, which can only be described as a truly magical experience.

The forest has been described as combining nature and art, with a strong connection to the artistic endeavors of Spain's earliest ancestors, as the compositions seem to connect with Paleolithic paintings found in the Cave of Santimamiñe, located close by in the same reserve. While those paintings were produced with charcoal and are monochrome only, the forest itself offers an experience in color, forms and shapes of all kinds.

This enchanted forest is the work of painter and sculptor Agustín Ibarrola, who took the forest and turned it into his canvas, making it a one-of-a-kind open-air museum in the heart of nature. Oma Painted Forest is free to visit and allows visitors to stroll among the wonderfully decorated pine trees and lush forest ferns, viewing the work as the various mysterious and lovely artistic compositions appear in front of them.

The Oma Painted Forest is one of the best-known examples of Ibarrola's work and is what is known as "land art," a medium that uses unspoiled nature as its frame. The artist was born in Basauri back in 1930 and started work on the Oma Painted Forest in 1982. He described his work as representing "social reality," as well as the "eyes of our ancestors." Ibarrola went on to say his incredible paintings are "the light that entered the forest and stayed there."

As I strolled through this magical outdoor museum it was fascinating to see the different figures, shapes and patterns on the trees. This is an exhibition to be viewed from all angles, as some paintings are confined to just one tree, while others spread over a range of trees, forming a stunning landscape piece of art. Some can only be understood from a certain angle. For a tempting peek into the experience, enjoy the video included below.

Written by: Anne Sewell

Anne Sewelle picAnne Sewell has lived in southern Africa for most of her life and is now a travel writer and freelance writer, living on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain. She enjoys visiting the more unusual and off-the-beaten track destinations in her new home country and writing about her experiences.

Photo Credits:

Maitreya on the Route of the Faces by: Asoka / CC BY-SA 3.0


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