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Friday, 19 June 2015

Antoni Gaudí

Blog 24

La Sagrada Familia
This coming Sunday, Canadians celebrate their dads on Father’s Day. In Germany, Father’s Day is always celebrated on Ascension Day. This is the day, Jesus ascends into Heaven. It is the Thursday forty days after Easter. Ascension Day is a federal holiday in Germany.

As I have only done some small sketches of my father so far, I figured I will write about my favourite artist. You probably expected a blog about one of the painters I featured in one of my “Painting Like Famous Artists” workshops but my favourite artist is an architect, like my father. An architect who died on June 10, which is the same day my dad was born less than a decade later. I am talking about Antoni Gaudí i Cornet ( 25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926), a Spanish Catalan architect from Reus.

Gaudí's work was influenced by his three passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the “modernisme” movement with his organic works inspired by nature.

Casa Batlló
To him, originality meant returning to the origins. He used geometric forms from nature like curves, parabolas, and hyperbolas. All elements were balanced and did not need supports. In Gaudí’s opinion, an artist’s task is to create works full of life and harmony. He looked for inspiration in nature to recreate movement and colour in the elements of his buildings. 

He used brick, stone, bright ceramic tiles, stained glass, carpentry, and floral or reptilian metalwork to create this colourful harmony. By recycling pieces of ceramic tiles as well as broken cups and plates discarded by several Spanish manufacturers he was far ahead of his time. He also used building materials according to the climate making it possible to ventilate a building without opening windows. He used movable walls, garbage chutes, and underground parking.

La Sagrada Familia
Most of Gaudí's works are located in Barcelona, including the still unfinished cathedral “La Sagrada Familia”. Several of Gaudí’s buildings have been granted World Heritage status by UNESCO: the Park Güell, the Palau Güell and the Casa Milà, the Nativity facade, the crypt and the apse of the Sagrada Família, the Casa Vicens and the Casa Batlló in Barcelona, together with the crypt of the Colònia Güell in Santa Coloma de Cervelló. His work continues to stand out because of Gaudí’s vision and his contribution to architecture.

La Sagrada Familia
When I learned about Gaudí in school I was fascinated by the forms and colours. I always had a certain aversion to the block shape of houses and rooms. Gaudí’s round shapes, his use of colour and different materials evoked my curiosity. I even wrote a big essay about him and his buildings. I was lucky to have seen some of his buildings when I visited Barcelona as a teenager. I was excited to see the Casa Batlló and the Casa Milà but I was in awe when I saw the cathedral “La Sagrada Familia”. The vision he had for this building is so much bigger than one person can execute. Recently, I saw an interesting documentation about the building called “Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation” on Netflix.

Casa Milà
As a painter, I can certainly relate to Gaudí’s search to depict life’s beauty and harmony in his works. This feeling is certainly reflected in my artist statement:

Whenever I look around me I am amazed by the beauty of nature, its ever changing colours and movement. With my paintings I try to interpret this beauty to prevent it from fading - like a moment frozen in time.

I enjoy painting outside while breathing in the fresh air, listening to the sounds of nature at different times of the year and spending time with like-minded artists. The Canadian landscape offers not only diversity but also big challenges to the artists when wind, rain, snow, and extreme temperatures make plein air painting difficult. It also inspires to work with whatever nature offers.

In my studio I try to recreate the feeling. Even when I paint something else but landscapes, I try to remember the way I felt about the subject and to catch and share this passion.

Do you like Gaudí’s style or do you prefer clear lines and sleek facades?

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