Modernista: Gaudi and his Contemporaries in Modern Day Barcelona
- Talitha Kotzé
- 12 January 2010
At the turn of the 20th century, Catalonia’s architectural response to European art nouveau was manifested in buildings such as the Park Güell, Casa Milà and the Sagrada Família, characterised by highly stylised organic motifs and curvilinear forms. A century later, these buildings stand juxtaposed with the blocks of flats, cranes and scaffolding of a modern city buzzing with life and expanding urbanisation.
Glasgow School of Art graduate and Scottish photographer, Michael Thomas Jones, has captured the legacy that modernism has bequeathed to the city and the way this is integrated into the everyday. The works form a photographic essay in which the iconic buildings are presented in their modern day guise. Traffic signs, air-conditioning units against the old buildings and refuse bags sketch out a cityscape shaping itself as life goes on. Jones also shows portraits of the inhabitants photographed in the building’s interiors, moving through the streets and contemplating the architecture.
Well presented in the gallery, one is impressed by their classical painterly aesthetic, but we care less about the Mexican Consul General photographed in his office, and become more intrigued by the table in a working artist studio which was once used for dissecting cadavers. A strange lobster-like piece of flesh is suspended above a cluttered studio. Succinctly framed, this scene invites the viewer to unravel the chaos.
The content of the textual captions seem a bit redundant as the works themselves speak volumes of the ghosts of Gaudí and his contemporaries in a city haunted by their idiosyncratic designs in contemporary Barcelona.
The Lighthouse, Glasgow, until Sun 28 Feb