"Color, Effect, Luster and Opulence"
Exhibition of Luis Barragan. Wexner Center, Columbus, Ohio. 2007.
Critic: Gabriel Esquivel
Project by: Kylie Karagiorge and Ali Brewer
In Barragán’s work the fluctuation experienced from one space to the next gives the subject the sense of non-uniformity within the house, and awareness that specific “atmospheres” attempt to evoke different emotions and senses. Each atmosphere has inherited qualities of light, color, sound, and function. Populations of objects, art and furniture interact with the physical form and ambient effects to produce qualities of sensuality, pleasure, intimacy, spirituality, etc. Color was the final addition to the constructed space. Barragán would revisit the construction site and try to imagine the color in the environment. He found inspiration from the drawings of Chucho Reyes as well as Surrealist works by Magritte, Delvaux and De Chirico on account of their strange and mysterious auras. Chucho Reyes was credited by Barragán for his placing of color in his own work. He also referred to the studies of Itten which is devoted to laws of physics, harmony, contrast, and spatial effects of colors offering certain guidelines and strategies for color application such as the effects of cold and warm tones; warm tones will advance in perception and cold tones will retreat. For Barragán -“…color is employed as an agent for metamorphosing spaces and creating different ambiences.” He employed color to create an atmosphere that would produce an aesthetic response. Surfaces of the walls are textured never smooth, interacting with color and light intensifying the effect. Barragán regarded light as a tool for qualifying and transforming spaces. Spaces are introspective and sequential and are patterned by light and shadow. He worked by a process of assimilation – to integrate painting, sculpture and architecture perfectly and produce works in which it is impossible to separate the various components. There are very specific, prominent pieces placed within the various atmospheres of his house. Each lends itself to some type of perceptive effect or engages in the discourse of the architect. Jose Clemente Orozco’s Pueblo Mexicano, 1930 (living room) paints shadows where light goes and light where shadows go. Barragan saw this as an important lesson for architecture and often fetishizing the possibility of achieving the impossibility of the painting. Mathias Goeritz coined the concept of emotional architecture. Barragan used this concept in his research for an architecture that contains magic, mystery, beauty and enjoyment. He would use Goeritz’s chromatic gold paintings in spaces to impact light and spatial perception.When we consider color and atmosphere let’s go to Richard Wagner’s composition, particularly those of his later period, which are notable for their elaborate use of leitmotif. A leitmotif is a recurring musical theme, associated within a particular piece of music with a particular person, place or idea.
The operative qualities in leitmotif are required in the contemporary architectural work where there is the condition of integration for different ontological constructs. Today those leitmotifs have become digital technologies that can assist in that integration not only through systems of image production, but with new parametric systems that can bind and explore those philosophies with construction technology. The work of Luis Barragán would often be compared to Mies Van Der Rohe. Although there are similarities in the ambition to produce perceptual effects, there are clear differences as to how and what degree that is done. For example Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House & Phillip Johnson’s Glass House are composed of a standardized set of internal parts and make an effort to produce effects that are as consistent as possible. This could be described as a uniformity of effect.
The exploration will require the use of analog models and digital rhino models as the instrumentality of the studio. The process will be followed by understanding the contemporary conditions of a site for this particular project. The studio will require the use of analog models as well as the previously indicated digital ones. Finally the specific prototype will be developed revising the programmatic conditions and event structure that will sufficiently support this project. The project to develop could be a transformation and a redirection of a precedent with normative tectonics as long as there is a specific infrastructure to support it. The studio began by doing preliminary research on the precedent, following an image analysis using a analog model process with the support of the selected software a technique model. The investigation was followed by understanding the conditions of the space of the Wexner Center. The studio will require the use of analog models first and then the indicated digital ones.