When the Sun Sets in Baiona, a Seemingly Simple Whale Mural Reveals a Belly Full of Sailors
A new collaborative mural by Barcelona-based artists María López and Javier de Riba undergoes a dramatic shift from day to night. Titled Hizkuntza, the mural appears to be a simple outline of a whale by day, but darkness reveals an intricate glowing design. The placement of the whalers inside the whale’s belly suggests an ambiguous power dynamic: did the whale swallow the sailors, or did they overtake the beast and turn it into a ghost of its former self?
The mural is located in Patxa Plaza in Baiona, a small city on the southwest coast of France that is a popular tourist destination. The Plaza in particular is a site of public gathering and celebration of Basque culture. In a description of the mural on Behance, the artists explain that they were inspired by the complex history of whaling. Commercial extinction of the Eubalena Glacialis whale in the Cantabrian Sea forced Basque sailors to explore new horizons, which created new languages like Basque-Icelandic and Algonquin-Basque.
López and de Riba often work in glowing paints, and focus on the culture and history of the locations where they install their murals. You can see more of their work on Instagram and see behind-the-scenes in videos on their Vimeo channel. Hizkuntza is also available as a limited edition glow-in-the-dark print from the artists’ website, Reskate Studio.