When I’d just arrived at Barcelona, I didn’t have much information or expectation about Gaudi. I moved towards La Sagrada Familia just to see a large Roman Catholic Church by a famous architect. However, the scenery that was spread out before me was the beautiful and unforgettable inspiration that I couldn’t believe was right in front of me. It was an enormous construction of form and design that I could never ever come up with even though I would use all of my imagination. I was standing, with a shocked face, in front of the ‘monster’ that didn’t seem to belong to this world, for a long while.
Antoni Gaudi, a genius architect and the master artist of Barcelona, began to construct this church in 1883 but it is still an ongoing project. It has been told that he designed this building to make it ‘a church for the poor’ and also worked without pay, and the funds for construction has been raised through donations ever since the construction started. All aspects of this church were continuously shocking to me. It seemed to me that it was the very first church that contained no profane mind of human. This construction goes beyond its religious aspects and must have been a great construction with great value in the heritage of mankind.
When you go inside, the inspiration doubles. The entire construction looks like one enormous sculpture. Stones have been sculpted around windows and walls and ceilings have been harmonized perfectly like living things. The organic curves and shapes that reflect nature are mysteriously beautiful.
Since this trip, I recall Gaudi whenever someone asks me about the limits of mankind. I believe that the potential for mankind goes way beyond the limit we imagine but only ourselves undervalue that potential. As I travel and visit many places and meet many people of the world, I always get to discover something that goes beyond the limit that I had recently thought, with the kaleidoscope of creativity that human has. Especially for Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, it
was a groundbreaking experience that has expanded my consciousness almost to infinity. The reason why I have developed a deep faith in human’s ability rather than being cynical to Gaudi’s genius may be because Gaudi was not an arrogant genius but a plodding and modest ‘human’ who loved people in the lower class. And, Gaudi’s sincerity for God was always present there.
Gaudi said ‘art has universality.’ That universality is something that transcends time, conceptions and customs. The area that Gaudi has expressed goes beyond ‘human customs’ and conveys universality that is rather closer to god’s area. That universality that Gaudi has still inspires people even after a century has passed.
Furthermore, there isn’t anyone who can be sure about when this ‘present progressive’ construction would be completed. Nevertheless, I felt that Gaudi’s heritage is continuously blown into life through the following architects and that is the real universality.
Gaudi would have been aware that he couldn’t see through to the completion of this construction while he was living. In spite of that, he kept his patience and did his best in his role, and then he handed over that role to the following generations. The soul he had blown into the world by devoting 43 years of his life has transcended time and is still alive. Maybe, ‘completion’ itself has no meaning any more for this construction. We continue this task and pursue ‘universality’ Gaudi referred to, which is the truth that continues forever.
While looking at the task over the course of human history that transcends time, I recalled the word ‘hope’: hope that
the Truth exists, which never disappears eternally and hope that that can be accomplished with the infinite ability of mankind. If we put effort in getting closer to god’s mind, the truth, we would be able to get there slowly but surely; like Gaudi’s wise saying:
“This church’s construction is slowly progressing, but everything with a fate to survive time has done so.”