When we talk about Modernisme, Gaudí’s name is usually the only name that pops into people’s minds. However, his teacher, renown Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner (1850-1923), had already started writing the history of the style with landmarks such as the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and the stunning Palau de la Música Catalana.
Inside the latter is the only concert hall regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage site, where much more than musical performances takes place. For the last five years it’s also been a spot where major contemporary artists have held large showcases of their work. Last year, Jaume Plensa made his mark with his massive, eye-bending sculpture Carmela. Other big names, like Bill Viola, Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith have all had the pleasure of occupying the Palau de la Música’s space.
Now it’s Santi Moix’s turn.
His series of ten new pieces harmoniously converses with the spirit of the Palau. Domènech i Montaner’s modernist architecture was inspired by Nature, and vegetal forms comprise its ornate motifs. Plants, flowers and leaves of all shapes decorate the majority of the building’s surfaces.
Using a similar language, Moix presents an expansive wall adorned with a monumental ceramic flower (that will soon alight upon the Sant Víctor de Saurí church), along with seven smaller blossoms in the Sala Lluís Millet. Additionally, another piece created just for this show sits in-situ, taking center stage in the heart of the concert hall.
This dynamic between twenty-first century art and a location loaded with historic significance creates an elegant synthesis. The viewer perceives an authentic allure emanating from both the lingering presence of the past and the immediate excitement common to contemporary artistic approaches. Moix, both a sculptor and a painter now living in New York City, is paying homage to the place he originally comes from. He also takes pride in re-interpreting its heritage, as noted in a recent article in The New York Times’ T Magazine.
The organic element, the bright, alive and deeply intense colours chosen, together with the omnipresence of sinuous lines (no sharp corners; soft, rounded shapes rule here) make a perfect recipe for a fascinating visitor experience. Walking in, one finds oneself trapped and captivated, Stockholm Syndrome style, by the lush, supple forms all around.
Next year, the Palau de la Música Catalana will host a body of work by Spanish artist Antonio López García, and it seems like this unique continuum will carry on bearing nourishing, bizarrely beautiful fruit — each year sweeter and juicier than the last.
Diana Di Nuzzo
Photographs courtesy of the Palau de la Música Catalana