Encounter with Cristina Iglesias

On Leopold De Waelplaats, at the bottom of the stairs of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, you will find the work Deep Fountain by the Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias (b. 1956). It was one of Iglesias' very first horizontal fountains or 'liquid sculptures' – interdisciplinary sculptures which in the meantime have become a permanent fixture in her oeuvre. At the time, Robbrecht en Daem architecten’s request to Iglesias was to create a reflective water feature. Iglesias set to work with the proposal and gave rise to a very personal cycle: a floor of vegetal forms with an incision from which water bubbles up, slowly fills the entire surface, forms a still mirror and then disappears again. With this work she introduces the element of time into public art – a very special element in this dense, urban space. The surrounding staircase of the museum creates a kind of arena on the square in which this event of ebb and flow takes place. Moreover, the columns of the museum are beautifully reflected in the work of art, while the veronese green of the Deep Fountain matches the typical oxide color of the copper sculptures on top of the museum.

The Katoen Natie Headquarters project also includes a collaboration with Iglesias. In this conglomeration of three very old warehouses that were converted into offices, Robbrecht en Daem wanted to bring in light from above from the outset. This is achieved through Iglesias’ work Alabaster Cupolas: light sculptures in pyramidal shapes made of alabaster that are cut off at the top by a construction in stained glass. With these cupolas, two ‘types’ of light fall in. A very diffuse, milky light on the one hand, and a colored light in shades of blue and green on the other. The fact that these types of light are brought into a working atmosphere is exceptional. The fragile character of the skylights also contrasts sharply with the rudimentary character of the building. Against the roughness of the architectural interventions, the artworks have a critical presence. Their luminous and colorful reverberations form an intrusion, a kind of elegant subversion.
 What is strongly present in the work of Iglesias and also in Alabaster Cupolas is the memory of Iberian culture, of the merging of Arab culture and the European Renaissance in a Spanish idiom. In particular, her use of alabaster and color recalls this. With Katoen Natie’s strong global presence, the cupolas make tangible a shred of the company’s global awareness within its offices.
 Finally, for a third, but chronologically first bridge between the work of Cristina Iglesias and Robbrecht en Daem, we go back to Chambre d'Amis (1986) and Floor for a sculpture, Wall for a painting (1987). The first exhibition provided the introduction, the second the first real collaboration between the two. For the statement exhibition Floor for a sculpture, Wall for a painting at de Appel in Amsterdam, Robbrecht en Daem created the scenography and also selected the artists – including Cristina Iglesias, René Daniëls, Isa Genzken and Philippe Van Snick. Iglesias’ sculptures showed themselves to be interdisciplinary here as well, providing a connection between the wall and the floor.
1 Original Publication: Adrian Searle, “Stained with a Pale Light”, in Carmen Gimenez, ed., Cristina Iglesias (New York, 1997), p. 50.
"Iglesias’s sculptures are both objects and places." ¹
Adrian Searle