(He’s pronounced ‘Jowmer ‘… J as in Jim (because he’s Catalan, apparently) and ow as in cow.)
‘The real concern is for sculpture again to become a source of beauty, posing the great fundamental questions.’
He was born in Barcelona in 1955 and had his first solo show there in 1980. Since then he has exhibited all over the world with many public commissions including in 1996 ‘Blake in Gateshead’ (which sends a beam of blue light high into the sky) at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, and ‘Dream’ at St Helens which won the 2009 Marsh Award for Public Sculpture.
The beam of light at Gateshead and the figures on high at Nice reveal a constant theme of Plensa … sculpture as a’ bridge’ between earth and heaven. He’s an admirer of William Blake and notes that they were both born in the middle of a century which, he believes, makes them ‘bridges between different times, forces, and energies’.
‘William Blake was trying to make the Marriage of Heaven and Hell. I make pieces connecting both, asking why architects are not designing the right bridges: they are only doing horizontal bridges, we have to make the vertical ones, the fundamental ones.’
I was reminded at times of Anthony Gormley and unsurprisingly Plensa says ‘… I am more interested in the soul than the body’.
‘To comprehend a concept fully Plensa believes you must also understand its opposite. In this exhibition he reveals light and shadow; materiality and immateriality; volume and emptiness; interior and exterior.’ (Exhibition Catalogue)
‘Each of us is a ‘place’. Every woman, man, child, old person
is a habitable space that moves and unfolds;
a ‘place’ corresponding to a time, a geography,
a volume and a colour.
Whole cities built with bodies, opening and closing like doors.
Lights that blink.
For every death, a house is closed and a ’place’ lost.
My work is their memory.
The frozen fixation of so many bodies, which develop
and disappear in the transience of the light.
My work is their volume.
( Jaume Plensa, Paris 2000)
My experience was one of reverence in the presence of holiness. From the two films to be seen at the exhibition I’ll remember his beseeching eyes begging to be understood.