Art is the Radiance of the Light of Truth: without Truth there is no Art
Etsuro Sotoo, (Fukuoka, 1953) is a Japanese sculptor, based in Barcelona, and known mainly for his work in the design and construction of the façade of the basilica Sagrada Familia following the instructions left by Antonio Gaudí. Through his work on the Sagrada Familia and in searching for beauty, Sotoo discovered and converted to the Catholic faith.
During his presentation, Sotoo described how he found the most profound beauty in the plans Gaudí had for the construction of the Sagrada Familia: “At first, I studied Gaudí’s writings and his models, but a moment came when I had to work on a project that not even Gaudí had imagined or planned. I wondered, ‘What do I have to do?’ (…) And I thought, ‘Where would Gaudí look?’ And that’s where I tried to look. This was a very important moment: to look where Gaudí had looked. To do that, I had to be where Gaudí was – and where was Gaudí? Gaudí was in the world of faith. And so, it was natural for me to want to enter into this world of faith, to learn more, or to be able to de the assigned work.”
Other topics Etsuro Sotoo touched upon were those of happiness and love. He explained that his work as a sculptor led him to the faith: “My name is Etsuro which means “happy man,” and it’s true – true happiness is now, upon discovering the faith. (…) From that moment my life changed completely. I understood all the words, but not as clearly as crystal as I had wished. (…) I’m just a simple stonecutter, but I search for art. Whoever searches for art is not always an artist; only sometimes is he an artist. Why? Sometimes an art is born unexpectedly. Gaudí said, ‘Art is the splendor of the light of Truth: without Truth there is no art.’ To find the truth is very difficult; one doesn’t always succeed. Therefore I think that the profession of an artist doesn’t exist. Only the one who looks for art, art as the splendor of the light of truth, is perhaps the closest person to an artist. (…) With suffering and humility, Gaudí looked for happiness through architecture – but not his happiness, since he knew that looking for his own happiness is not Happiness. Happiness is giving happiness to another. In other words, happiness is to live within the heart of another person and having another person live within your heart. That is happiness. And so, through architecture Gaudí looked for happiness, looked to give happiness to the one who commissioned him.”
In the question-and-answer session after Etsuro Sotoo’s presentation, the congress participants jumped at the opportunity and asked many questions about the definition of beauty, the objectivity of beauty, and the role education plays in appreciating beauty.