A new exhibit opens in Gaudí’s first structure

Located in the Nau Gaudí space in the seaside town of Mataró, the exhibit starts a dialogue about humans and architecture

A detail of Miquel Navarro's city, in the exhibit 'An arc, an igloo, a city' in the Nau Gaudí building in Mataró
A detail of Miquel Navarro's city, in the exhibit 'An arc, an igloo, a city' in the Nau Gaudí building in Mataró / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 24, 2017 09:22 PM

Two large artworks fill the space inside the Nau Gaudí space in the seaside town of Mataró, north of Barcelona. The name of the exhibit is An arch, an igloo, a city (Un arc, un iglú, una ciutat) and it refers to the three defining elements of the experience: the Nau Gaudí space itself, and the two large-scale art inside of them.

The arch

The space, named after the iconic architect that created it, has housed the town’s Museum of Contemporary Art for the last few months. According to the building’s website, the Nau Gaudí space is the iconic modernist architect’s first building, raised in 1883. Originally imagined as a cotton bleaching shed, the structure stands out for its iconic wooden parabolic arches, marking “the first time,” the webpage states, that Gaudí employed the architectural solution that would later come to define his work.

The igloo and the city

The other two elements of the exhibit, the igloo and the city, are the two artworks displayed inside the art of Gaudí’s space. A dark, jagged igloo-like structure with teal neon signs and road paved with newspapers goes by the name of ‘The path to come here’ (El camí per venir aquí), and was constructed by Mario Merz. Meanwhile, the city invites the viewer into a simplistic yet complex miniature rendition of a metropolis called ‘From the roof’ (Des del terrat), done at the hand of Miquel Navarro.

Together, Merz’s igloo, Navarro’s city and Gaudí’s parabolic arches make up a metaphorical dialogue about architecture, and the different ways of living over time. The exhibition's curator, Nimfa Bisbe, explains that An arch, an igloo, a city seeks the complicity and active contemplation of the spectator.

Nature, growth, and adaptation

Between the works of Merz and Navarro a first dialogue is already established, that of the city against the first form of human architecture, which is then added to Gaudí’s arches. The three artists, explains Bisbe, also share other concepts beyond the constructive element of their art, such as nature, growth, and adaptation to space or energy.

Merz’s igloo is one of the Italian artist’s most iconic works. Built with granite, iron, broken glass, neon lights and newspapers, it represents change and was designed using the Fibonacci sequence. This numerical sequence, Bisbe explains, is the same from Gaudí’s iconic spirals.

Two different readings for a city

The work of Miquel Navarro is a fable of urban planning. Although it may seem like one at first sight, it is not a model. Instead, it acts as a representation of the different readings that cities have. Navarro’s piece is distributed in two areas: in one, it stands made of zinc, vertical, rigid and dominant. Meanwhile, further away exhibit-goers will see the second version: a city of clay, horizontal, warm and more human.

An arch, an igloo, a city is a joint initiative of the Mataró Museum of Contemporary Art - Mataró Town Hall and the Bassat Collection, along with Obra Social La Caixa. The exhibit will run for the next three months.