Etsuro Sotoo: Looking where Gaudí Looked

July 25 2014 – The current head of the workshop of sculptors of the Sagrada Familia, Etsuro Sotoo, transports us to the essence of Gaudí’s work.


The first edition of the Gaudí 1st World Congress Barcelona 2014, will include a broad representation of Japanese professionals, intellectuals and scholars, which include the architect Arata Isozaki – who will be responsible for the inaugural conference -, architect Toshiaki Tange, architect and writer Dr. Tokutoshi Torii, and the sculptor Etsuro Sotoo.

Etsuro Sotoo is the current head of the workshop of sculptors of the Sagrada Familia. “I’ve been 36 years working on this temple. I’ve physically been here, but spiritually I have not stopped traveling through the Sagrada Familia.

Sotoo arrived to Barcelona in 1978, at a time when the temple was forgotten, practically hidden, without arousing the interest of no one in the city. “I came to Europe in search of the stone, I wanted to touch it, chop it, and through it I should find something else. Stone brought me to Europe, Europe brought me to the Sagrada Familia, and the Sagrada Familia, over time, has presented me to Gaudí. Now Gaudí is presenting me something else, my journey continues forward. And this is exactly why I will be participating in the Gaudí 1st World Congress Barcelona 2014. Members attending will not come in search of Gaudí, their objective will be to search through Gaudí, reach beyond, learn more about the essence of humanity in Gaudí, something that we still do not know“.

About the great interest of Japanese people in the Catalan architect, Sotoo says, “The basis of Japanese culture is nature, equal to Gaudí, although he was able to foresee the strength of nature by him self, away from what marked Western culture in which he lived. Japanese culture and Gaudi are based on the same base, but the result is completely different. Spiritual origin is the same but the architectural and sculptural representation has nothing to do, and this fact will fascinate the Japanese“. So the Japanese people feel fascinated by the Taoist combination between nature, science and art that conveys the works of Gaudí.

Sotoo started his work at the Sagrada Familia following instructions and models left by Gaudí before his death. But this trace will end fading and Sotoo won’t know how to continue working, even considering the end of his contribution to the temple. But his inspiration resurfaces at the moment that he understands he must not keep looking to Gaudí – there are no more models to look – but should look right where Gaudí looked, read what Gaudí would have read at a time like that. At that point, Etsuro Sotoo recovers hope and continued with enthusiasm his work.

Gaudí said “beauty is the splendour of the light of truth” and he saw it. Today, Etsuro Sotoo continues looking for that beauty, with the desire to see what Gaudí saw before his death. Looking where Gaudí looked is the title of the paper that Sotoo already prepares for his participation in the Congress.

About the objective that Gaudí 1st World Congress Barcelona 2014 must comply with, Sotoo is clear “We must go beyond and not just stick with the great Gaudí’s architecture. Unconsciously, Gaudí teaches us to open ourselves to the future, opens a door to hope, is foreboding and advances to the future, one of the keys to the Congress. The general interest in the work of Gaudí tends to be quite superficial and we should get down to the essence, to the bottom. This Congress should offer insight into Gaudí and his work, far than staying in the superficial“.

The celebration of the Gaudí 1st World Congress Barcelona 2014 will provide an in-depth overview on the work of Gaudí that will take us to that essence that Etsuro Sotoo talks about.