Bright Side

An Artist Creates Sand Sculptures That Look So Real, We Can’t Believe Our Eyes

Far from the cold halls of the Spanish Fine Art Institute, Andoni Bastarrika carved his own path to become the experienced street artist he is today. It was by accident that he found what his mission in life was: bringing people together through the power of art and imagination. But still, after 10 years of creating the most astonishing and realistic sand sculptures, according to Bastarrika himself, “he’s still discovering what his hands can do because it’s the sand dictating what shape it wants to adopt.”

Today, Bright Side wants to introduce you to Andoni Bastarrika, whom we interviewed to learn more about his life and work, both of which are a clear expression of what liberty and freedom mean.

He sees the world through his hands.

Bastarrika is a self-taught artist. Back in the day, he owned a fruit shop and worked as a certified shiatsu therapist. “Maybe that’s what taught me to see the world through my hands,” he said. It was only in the summer of 2010 when, during a day at the beach with his daughters, he discovered his talent while helping them finish a sand sculpture.

His imagination is his inspiration.

To create his sculptures, Bastarrika gathers between 1,100 lb and 3,300 lb of sand. Bastarrika works mostly with his hands. He likes feeling and touching the sand. During the process, he uses a picture of what he’s sculpting as a reference, but most of his inspiration comes directly from his vivid imagination. It takes about 6 to 12 hours to finish a sculpture, after which is either taken away by the wind or by himself as he has to free the public space where he normally works.

The sand has been his teacher.

In most ways, Bastarrika’s work is a mark of humility instead of ego. “Working with sand can be quite challenging,” he said. “Especially because I work with low-quality sand, meaning that I cannot build high sculptures. But sand has always been my teacher, that’s its way of teaching us a lesson about the dangers of ego and trying to go too fast.”

Decay is the price to pay for freedom.

Unlike what the modern world has often tried to convince us of, the destruction of these works of art embodies our brief passage on Earth just as well as our decay. “My goal is to depict freedom and overwhelm people with beauty that is universal,” Bastarrika said. And what is more universal, is the passage of time embodied by these living sculptures. Maybe that’s why Bastarrika’s sculptures give that great feeling of liberation because decay is the price to pay for freedom.

Where will his adventures take him next?

Bastarrika confessed to “not knowing where this adventure will take him, just as I don’t know where it came from.” Despite his humbleness, the Spanish artist has not only been hired by Spanish municipalities to make sculptures and pass on his knowledge to others in yearly workshops, but even talent scouts in the UK and Saudi Arabia have sought him out. “All in all, I’m looking forward to giving new workshops in the summer. I like working with kids, but I’m open to working in any place, whether it is Australia, Africa, or Europe.”

Bastarrika asked us to pass on the following message to you: “Today is the time to make art and live peacefully, to lead a simple life, but a happy life.” What would you tell him? Do you agree with his statement? Do you think art is still a meaningful way of rebelling to reach happiness? Let us know in the comments!