Stil Life with Spider. California 2001UNAI SAN MARTÍN




04.03.2022 - 19.06.2022

Curator: María Millán






Through 105 heliogravures divided into 7 thematic sections, Unai San Martín invites us to abstract ourselves by gazing affably at images of landscapes, urban details and objects, without dwelling on the physical details of their location or the possible stories they contain. The simple, yet at the same time, resounding beauty of his images holds our attention and makes us travel and connect with those personal emotions and feelings that shape each of our biographical journeys. At a time when the frenetic pace of images and sounds leaves little room to recreate ourselves in our surroundings, Unai suggests a form of return – nostos in Greek – to nature, our original home, in a contemplative attitude; perception in slow motion that is free from longing.


Not many artists have the nerve to use this ancient, complex technique of heliogravure. It is a special process in which the image is transferred onto a copper or zinc plate, inked and printed on quality paper by passing it under an etching press.


The technique was developed in the late 19th century in order to be able to create many photographic copies. It enjoyed a major heyday in the early decades of the 20th century and was used in publications and important magazines such as Camera Work, directed by Alfred Stieglitz. But the advent of new, cheaper technologies, such as offset, meant that the painstaking and therefore more expensive process of heliogravure could not compete commercially. Nonetheless, the uniqueness, quality and beauty of the images obtained with heliogravure have led contemporary artists to choose this technique it in order to print their images.





ARTISTA Unai San Martín (Eibar, 1964)



Unai San Martín began his artistic career as a painter and moved away from painting after attending Morley College (London) and Pratt Institute (New York) in 1989, when he studied and developed his creative vision through photogravure (heliogravure), which fuses the art of photography and engraving.


This technique was first used in the 19th century and some of the codes he uses refer to this period, both in terms of technical treatment and his point of view. Images in which the artist’s expert hand manages to make the ink penetrate the cotton paper with a rich range of tones that span from intense black to the almost white of the paper, inviting attentive viewers to allow themselves to be enveloped by the atmospheres he recreates and to delight in the details of the image.


He settled in San Francisco in 1998. He has given classes at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley (California), as well as many heliogravure workshops internationally. He has also worked and collaborated as an expert in this technique with artists such as Moriyama, Araki and Sidibé. His work has won awards from La Calcografía Nacional, Gure Artea, and Marin Arts Council (California). His pieces can be found in both private and public collections, such as the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, Reina Sofía National Museum or Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Texas, among others.


His work has been presented by national galleries such as Altxerri and La Caja Negra, and it has also been primarily exhibited in the United States and Peru. His latest solo exhibitions were staged in San Anselmo (California, United States) and Guangxi (China) in 2017.


Unai San Martín is not only a creator of his own images, but also a master printmaker who has printed the work of renowned international artists today.


Photo: Ysabel Carlos 



Commented guided tours:



5.30pm in Basque / 6.30pm in Spanish

Prior booking is required by calling 943 25 19 37 at the Gallery or writing to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Discussion between Unai San Martín and exhibition curator María Millán

17 March, 6 pm

Kutxa Kultur Plaza (4th floor, Tabakalera)

Spanish. Free. Prior booking on the website.

Live streaming on YouTube.


Talk entitled Unai San Martín and Literature by Markos Zapiain

26 April, 6 pm

Sala Ruiz Balerdi (4th floor, Tabakalera)

Basque. Free. Prior booking on the website.

Live streaming on YouTube.




Discarge here the exhibion guide:





UNAI SAN MARTÍNcatalogounaisanmartin


Edition in Basque, Spanish and English

Price:  30€ (VAT included)