Gaudi and a State of Beige

Mosaic wall in Barcelona's Park Guell

Mosaic wall in Barcelona’s Park Guell made of broken and discarded dishes

Reflections on seeing Antoni Gaudí’s architecture in Barcelona

We leave Gaudí and return to our homes of beige, perhaps with a brightly hued dish in our suitcase to remind us what color should look like.  But we don’t dare be like Gaudí.  We won’t paint our wall with checkerboards or mosaics.  We won’t bathe our living rooms in bright tiles or playful lizards.  We look at this as art–and we will always fear art.  We will fear it is too unusual, bizarre.  We fear that color will make us uncommon, when color is perhaps the most common of all.  Nature doesn’t do beige alone–it must be caressed by something brighter: the sand by the sea, the dirt by the fertile crops.  Even the desert reflects the sky.

Salamander at Park Guell

Salamander at Park Guell

I, on the other hand, want only color, perhaps too much.  I want a Gaudí wall in my garden.  i want a mosaic in my kitchen, the floor a melange of broken dishes, organic forms created from ceramic with past lives, shaped into swirls and curves.  I want to ban all straight lines and live with gently sloping walls, doors with reliefs.  I photograph the buildings, hoping to one day duplicate them, and I promise to add more color.

I want to live here:  Fantastic gingerbread houses by Gaudi at Park Guell, Barcelona

I want to live here: Fantastic gingerbread houses by Gaudi at Park Guell, Barcelona

On the flight home, somewhere above Iceland or Ireland or just some expanse of icy water, I read a line:  “Art ought to help us recover the sensations of life, ought to revivify our understanding of things.”*  I looked out the window at an expanse of cloud and imagined color.

*Anthony Doerr summarizing Viktor Shklovsky’s 1917 essay “Art as Technique” in Conde Nast Traveler
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