Here are some drawings from my first full reportage day in Barcelona. I woke up, had some coffee and a ham sandwich (of course, it’s the national food of Spain), and high-tailed it over to Guadi’s Park Guell. Well, maybe I didn’t really high tail it over there; once I got out of the subway station I had a long and winding road to climb up the mountains.
Fortunately there were a few escalators sprinkled along the route or I think the altitude and the heat would have done me in. But it was well worth the climb – I have wanted to see this park since I first found out about it as a student at Parsons. What a place – it did not disappoint! The shapes, colors, patterns, textures and scale were unreal. Literally, unreal. So I pulled out every crayon, paintbrush, pen, etc. that I had in my bag and jumped on the first drawing above. Then I had to go up those stairs for a closer look:
Gaudi’s intention was for Park Guell to be a residential area – like the Stuyvesant Town apartment complex of Barcelona, maybe? I can’t imagine how living there would affect your world view, coming as I do from life in a square apartment building made out of rectangular bricks. I think it would definitely sensitize you to colors galore! Actually I think a few people do live there but mainly it’s a public park. Gaudi had a house there though, when he wasn’t sleeping at the Sagrada Familia site.
The lizard sculpture seemed to be a big hit with the visitors. Here is a quick little drawing of a girl playing on it, along with some other thumbnails:
The bench is overlaid with broken pottery and there are ‘secret’ messages in the designs. A lot of Catholic symbolism, since Gaudi was a fervent Catholic (more on that in my Sagrada Familia post) and a lot of cultural references. It’s truly beautiful and was actually made and put together by one of Gaudi’s most talented collaborators, the artist Jujol. Jujol came up with the idea for the broken pottery decoration when he saw the broken head of a child’s doll on the street. To quote Gijs Van Hensbergen, Gaudi’s biographer: “Taken as a whole the bench’s explosion of colour is like a cinematic version of the famous Rose window at Chartres.” True! Here is a link to the biography, if you’re interested to read more: GAUDI. Great read.
But the best part for me was when I went UNDER the building that the serpentine bench sits on. What a beautiful public space – there was a musician playing and, despite the heat (I swear it hit 100 degrees) it was cool and relaxing under the arches. And you could see glimpses of the beautiful Spanish landscape through the archways:
Looking up at the ceiling, it seemed to me that it was constructed of sunflowers looking up, and we were seeing the stems. What a fantasy! I don’t know if that’s what Gaudi had in mind but that’s what I saw, and drew. What a lovely thought…
Finally it grew late and it was time for me to end my first reportage day with Gaudi. Before I left the park for the long walk DOWN, I drew this of Gaudi’s home and the entrance to Park Guell:
Que lindo! or linda? I always get the masculine/feminine confused in Spanish. Let’s just say it was beautiful…