Monday, January 28, 2008


I had to trump the surfaces mentioned in the last post. And, thankfully, I have found surfaces that aren't just surface at all, but texture and form and movement. And stillness.

Today, while dithering over what to buy in the bookshop with my Christmas giftcard, I came across this wonderful box of Gaudí for a very cheap price indeed, so much so that I managed to buy a book on Tadao Ando’s architecture also.

Ando’s work is austere...? No, I’m not sure it is. Half of his work is the design of the buildings, and the other half is where they are sited. He can put a concrete box without one side in front of a shallow lake, and the lake becomes the building’s missing piece. Equally, he’s not above siting objects outside. The photo above shows some of of Ando’s hard lines in the background, and Richard Serra’s sculpture Joe settles like a delicate — and monumental — curlicue in front.

Of course they put it there because they knew that it and the building would chatter happily away between themselves for decades, if not longer. And similarly, while concrete says “I’ll stay here and be strong and flawless,” so Serra’s big vortex of weathering steel says “Feeling” in the way it curls (up) and blemishes and gets rough-skinned under the weather.

Don’t think, either, that I’m leaving Gaudí out of this — his buildings, all riot and elegant dance in their sequinned dresses, are directly related. They are themselves the point and the setting doesn’t really matter, but the curves and the importance of the surface as a means of expression are... well, very obvious. If you want something to breathe plainness, make it smooth and unyielding. Otherwise... give it some feeling.

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