Eduardo Chillida At the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, until 29 February
When the Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida died in 2002, he left unrealised his most ambitious public project: a vast cube hollowed out inside a mountain on Fuerteventura in the Canaries, approached along an 80m tunnel and lit by two shafts above. But there is a miniature approximate on show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park: a cube of alabaster in which Chillida has carved split-level, interpenetrating chambers - an interior architecture in the translucent stone (see right). Its title translates, appropriately, as Unorthodox Architecture; and Chillida trained as an architect before finding his vocation.
Chillida is one of those rare sculptors whose public works really do engage the public, without condescension. The best known is his Combs of the Wind at San Sebastian - three huge rusting steel claws confronting the ocean. But maquettes of several more are in the YSP's Bothy Gallery (with such great titles as The Cage of Freedom), and it is easy to envisage them at a much larger scale. 'I have spent a lot of time being very small in relation to my working model - I have been small enough to walk inside my models, ' said Chillida; an experience we can share in this show.
Big or small, Chillida's sculptures frequently evoke a human gesture (a hand clenched or unclenching, a protective arm, an embrace) or the natural world (perhaps a branching tree). No doubt this is a source of their appeal. But even more than the sculptures of Brancusi (whom Chillida much admired), they do so in a stylised, distant way, with no trace of sentimentality.Made of steel or iron - and solid, obdurate, extremely heavy - there is something immemorial about them; they could be here for centuries.
A few of the works shown outdoors at the YSP are on a truly public scale: Buscando de la Luz IV, for instance, which greets visitors on a mound near the entrance;
from one angle looking like a sentinel, from another like giant upstretched arms offering something to the sky. Buscando de la Luz III (it means 'looking for light') marks out a square precinct at one end of the Formal Terrace. On three sides, big folded sheets of steel rise up like elevated thrones and open themselves to the landscape; their occupants would have panoramic views (see below). But beneath each of these is a cave-like shelter: the concepts of 'prospect' and 'refuge' are poised. It is another reason why people respond to Chillida. In the largest landscape, he does not expose them but shields or anchors them or offers a support.
The works, indoors and out, well reflect the range of materials that Chillida embraced. There are multipart fired-clay pieces that fit together like three-dimensional puzzles, murals on concrete tiles, screenprints. There are subjects he kept returning to, like the table: The Architect's Table (1984) is one of the most memorable, if enigmatic, works on display. There is the influence of music (Bach was a favourite).
Whether a 20-tonne block of steel or a piece of paper you could tear in a moment - these works communicate intensely. And seeing the black silhouettes on the white embossed surface of Chillida's prints, you sense how dramatic his steel forms will look if this winter brings snow to the YSP.