August 09, 2009

Julio Basanta López, Casa de Dios, Las castillicos de Epila/House of God, The castles of Epila



picture from the website of spanish tv
 
Born in 1933 in Zaragoza, Spain, Julio Basanta became a bricklayer and mason. He acquired a piece of land in the community of Epila, in the neighborhood of Zaragoza, and here he singlehandely constructed a weekend house

It became a rather special construction with three separate structures and a configuration of parts that look like a castle.

In the middle of the 1960's Basatnta began transforming his summer house into an art environment, adding a variety of sculptures that mainly represent deities and demons.


picture local newspaper Goza Zaragoza (march 2010)
the poster in the background says that looking around 

will cost € 50 (listening to some sacred music included) 

His project is named Casa de dios (House of God) or Las Castillicos de Epila (The small castles of Epila).The plural refers to the fact that the house consists of a number of structures referred to as "small castles").
On the walls of the property one can see texts referring to religious themes and Basanta may have been inspired by religious considerations to start this project.

However, the scenes created by Basanta are not gentle or mystical, but rather rude and terrifying and in a comment in a newspaper the creation has been denoted as not being art brut but rather art brutal. 

this picture and the next one: screenprints from
the 2010 video (see documentation)

Basanta's life had several tragic moments. His father left the family when he was very young, and he and the other children were placed in an orphanage. 

In 1977 his brother, who was doing grafitti on a wall, was shot dead by the police, and later, in 2002 this also happened to his only son. In both cases the circumstances surrounding the events remained unclear. An inscription on a wal (the yellow one below) recalls these events.

Considering that already in the mid 1960's Basanta was active in creating the Case de Dios, these events can only partly provide an explanation for the specific characteristics of the site.


Documentation

* Article (2009) on weblog Bajo Mi Boina
* Spanish TV in 2010 had a program about a number of Spanish outsider artists (Outsiders 2); the video on the linked webpage shows from 20' on scenes of Basanta's environment
* The site got a scholarly review in: Jo Farb Hernandez, Singular Spaces. From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, Seatlle (Raw Vision, SPACES, San José State University), 2013. A short version was published on the website of SPACES
* Entry with pictures on España Bizarra, Tumblr may 2014
* Video by Enrique Guerrero (1'29", Youtube, uploaded april 2015)


first published aug 2009, revised jul 2010, jun 2012, nov 2012, dec 2013, feb 2016

Julio Basanta López
Las castillicos de Epila (Casa de Dios)
Epila, Aragon, Spain
can be seen from the street,
no regular visiting hours scheduled,

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