Today’s post takes us on a unique and different journey. As you know, we love to offer you different ways to travel through our region. On this route we will walk through different parts of the region and follow the works of OKUDA —Oscar San Miguel Erice— the painter, sculptor and designer from Cantabria who gives everything he touches a splash of colour.
Given their significance, we will all be able to recognise OKUDA’s works in all types of buildings and surfaces. You can see his urban art, his large-format works with fragmented figures in geometric shapes and his use of colour, all over the world, and, here, in Cantabria, we are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy them whenever we want to in Cantabria Infinita. Fancy joining us?
All the places along this route have one thing in common: they all feature OKUDA’s outdoor works and are accessible to everyone: for example, a lighthouse, the façades of buildings, a football pitch, a square with a bear and many more, all bearing his original signature. We will visit Reinosa, Laredo, Santander, Miengo, Ajo, Polanco, Somo, Ruerrero, Torrelavega, Carrejo and Camargo. Today’s journey takes us through the vibrant colours of OKUDA in Cantabria.
The bear sculpture in front of the cultural centre, painted by OKUDA and inspired by nature, is a symbol of this town’s distinct identity within the campurriana district (the southernmost part of Cantabria which borders Palencia and Burgos). The sculpture stands by the banks of the River Ebro. OKUDA has said of his work that “the bear and mural engage in an interaction between sculpture and painting in a setting of mountains and water; the bear representing one of the most representative animals from Campoo and Cantabria’s fauna”.
You will come across this work by OKUDA when you visit this coastal town and ask for information at the tourist office. It stands in the former Emisora Municipal (Local Radio Station) building, at one end of the Alameda Miramar. Could this be the most colourful tourist information centre you’ve ever seen?
In Santander, we recommend visiting four works by OKUDA. The first is an impressive mural in Calle General Dávila that welcomes visitors. It is 15 metres high and eight metres wide. This work, painted in 2015, is the result of a joint work by Okuda and José Luis Serzo as part of the Huellas project. Our second stop takes us to the façade of the Mesón Riojano building in the middle Calle Río de la Pila, where we see an original mural created in collaboration with Spok Brillor.
Next, we visit the Colegio Vital Alsar in Cueto, where Okuda has decorated the façades through an innovative crowdfunding campaign. The fourth and last stop in Santander is Valdenoja with a mural dedicated to “Mukis and the infinite smile”. This is a joint work by Okuda and Jank333.
Cuchía is a very special place for the Cantabrian artist: it is his home, the place he grew up. And it is here, specifically on the walls of the football pitch, where he has spent years trying out new techniques and designs. One example is the work with painted tiles depicting Nelson Mandela, which you can see today.
Moving on from the walls of the football pitch, if you go to the Marzán beach, you can see his sculpture Totem, which OKUDA co-created with Remed. The Elsedo local nursery school was the last place he did a mural in his village of origin.
In the summer of 2020 OKUDA gave the Ajo lighthouse something of a makeover. And that same summer, once the work was completed, many more people than usual visited the lighthouse, which stands in one of the most spectacular settings on the eastern coast of Cantabria. If you are planning a visit to the Tierruca region and are interested in OKUDA’s work, or just want to enjoy the stunning surroundings, cliffs and scenery, this lighthouse is a must on your itinerary.
In September 2021, OKUDA also renovated six grain silos in Ajo. The idea was to turn the lighthouse and the silos into a leading urban art route in Spain that will help attract tourists to this area of East Cantabria, especially in the low season.
Years ago, the artist painted one of his first works on a wall in the La Cochera neighbourhood, at the entrance of the town. And this is where we will make our next stop: to see a new mural depicting the Cantabrian writer Jose María Pereda. The work incorporates all of the motifs used to portray the Cantabrian writer’s personality.
Another famous mural by OKUDA is the one on the façade of the ceramics workshop of the Somo Town Hall in Cantabria. On this urban art project, OKUDA worked with the Ukrainian artist Waone.
The Immortals project, a tribute to the elders and residents of the area, added a splash of colour to this village in the municipality of Valderredible in 2018. The mural on one of the village’s buildings features two portraits of two of the village’s elderly residents along with a variety of organic shapes inspired by nature.
Last May, the Cantabrian artist decorated the façade of the headquarters of the local Job Centre of Torrelavega and the District (Coorcopar). The composition is a historical allegory that evokes the city’s noble and industrial past, with a large tower that refers to the Vega Tower (which gives the town its name), a chimney and other constructions that allude to the town’s industrial history.
The Nature Museum of Cantabria, located in an 18th century mansion in the Cantabrian village of Carrejo, displays a wolf designed by Okuda. The wolf, made of different coloured diamonds, adds a fun and spectacular touch to the museum. OKUDA’s work is part of the 2018 project to redesign the entire museum in order to modernise this natural history complex and adapt its narrative to the 21st century.
OKUDA’s latest work in Cantabria consists of two murals. The first of these is 140 square metres in size and is located in the recently-opened Bahía Real shopping centre. This mural, titled ‘The Rest of the Rainbow Zebra’, is made up of over a hundred different colours and depicts a journey of figures inspired by classical art and animals. The second mural, inaugurated at the end of the summer, is on two screens arranged at the top of the shopping centre.
How did you like our colourful tour of OKUDA’s works in Cantabria? Are any of them your favourites? Did you know his work? Tell us about it on our social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hastag #ComparteCantabria.
Come and enjoy this summer in Cantabria, more to discover.