Sand Wizardry: Revealing the Jaw-Dropping Realism and Impeccable Detail of an Extraordinary Sculptor’s Animal Masterpieces

Andoni Bastarrika, a gifted artist hailing from Basque Country, Spain, discovered the unparalleled potential of sand as his artistic medium.

While many of us find satisfaction in constructing sandcastles on the shore, Andoni surpasses our achievements with his awe-inspiring sand sculptures.
Sand sculpture is a form of art that involves creating three-dimensional sculptures using sand as the primary medium.

These sand sculptures are typically created on beaches or other sandy areas, using moist sand that can be easily molded and shaped. People usually gather around the artists as they create stunning animal sculptures out of the sand.

His works focus on creatures of the natural world, such as bulls and sharks. Andoni’s creations look incredibly realistic, that anyone who sees them—especially from afar—would think they’re real!

The artist first tried his hand at sand art in the summer of 2010, when he was at the beach with his two daughters.

He made them a sculpture of a little mermaid, and that’s when he discovered his gift: the “fluidity” of his hands.

In a conversation with Bored Panda, the multimedia artist said: “They knew what they were doing. I devoted myself to developing this gift and have spent the last 10 years doing just that.”

In a Facebook post, he explained why he’s continued to work with sand in the past decade.

“The sand fascinates me because no matter how you look at it, it will always teach you things if you are willing to learn. In order to create a sculpture, an unthinkable number of sand particles participate, hugging each other tightly through humidity, so that someone could model their union.”

“And once the artist steps back, its piece will remain at the mercy of nature, meaning that sooner or later the wind will dry them up and release each particle, slowly consuming all the individuality and authenticity.”

Although there are many reasons he adores sand as a medium, Andoni says this is probably the main one: its behavior.

“To create a beautiful world, we should all embrace each other just as tightly,” he said.

He also likes making animal sculptures out of sand because they’re “free spirits” from which humans can “reflect and learn from.”

“Then, there’s the nudity they bring with themselves to this world at birth which they keep until their death. That nudity—at least to me—symbolizes freedom, the essential ingredient to being able to truly live,” said Andoni.

“Humans ‘overdress’ to survive in a lot of ways. I have never made nor will I make an animal with a necklace or chains. I prefer to embrace their freedom, power, and wisdom through beauty rather than a form of suffering,” he added.

His creation process starts with piling up moist sand and shaping it as he tries to find the expression that will bring it to life.

Once he’s got it, he uses a sharpened stick and a feather to emphasize its expression.

Sometimes, he incorporates other materials such as coal powder, clay powder, stone powder of different colors, ashes, and glass shards to add an element of realism to his work.

The time it takes for him to complete one piece depends on its size. For example, he spent two days finishing the elephant sculpture and 12 hours completing the bison and the horse. The dogs, which are smaller, take about six to eight hours.

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