It seems as though Gaudi is paying homage to nature’s sacrifice by building a forest of his own.
In Europe, I’ve stepped foot in church more times than I have back home. Most of the churches followed a particular decorative and architectural format: art adorning the walls and ceilings, sometimes even the floors, statues and tombs randomly placed along the sides, relics stored away safely behind glass panes. But the Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi stands out – it is unlike any other church I’ve been to.
The exterior has a rustic feel, leading the viewer to think that it is much older than it is (construction of the church had only begun in 1882, and it is still unfinished to this day). But its style reveals that it is much more contemporary: its exterior seems to melt. Its arches and lines resemble anatomy: muscles and vessels stretch out to hold the piece together. There is so much going on – statues embedded into these muscles, hallow cubes etched into the towers, colorful jewel crusts rest on top of other towers.The place is swamped with tourists who need hours to digest this architecture, myself included.Its exterior resembles a marble forest, geometric trees holding up its high ceiling, decorated with snowflakes of all sorts of colors, adorned with symbols whose meaning remains its own secret (at least to me).
Gaudi, its creator, certainly deserves high praise for being so far advanced for his time – this piece resembles no traditional church; instead, it seems like a work of modern art intended for a different purpose. It makes one wonder about why churches had to follow strict formats. It stands as a paradox of sorts, even without its sacred disposition. For it speaks about humans’ interaction with nature: the Sagrada Familia houses a forest full of fake trees that cannot be deemed alive, despite its height and color. It can only aspire to be so much, and it seems to invoke regrets about nature as well: that nature must be cleared in order to make way for creations of humans such as this church. It is an unnatural assembling of materials, manipulated to human desires. It seems as though Gaudi is paying homage to nature’s sacrifice by building a forest of his own.
Article written by Becky Chao.