Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, Spain
As part of its 175th anniversary, the Liceu has unveiled the doors of the three openings at the entrance to the Gran Teatre del Liceu, a work by the artist Jaume Plensa which is an artwork of immense aesthetic value and is also a new heritage piece for the Rambla and an attraction for Barcelona.
Constellations is a set of doors fashioned by the fusion of stainless steel letters of new, different alphabets. It is a metaphor for the rich diversity that exists in the world today, as well as an invitation to enter to enjoy the universal language of music.
The work engages in a dialogue with the work of Joan Miró (Pla de l'Os mosaic), located a just few meters from the Liceu on the Rambla. It forges a symbolic and indeed physical union between two Catalan artists recognised worldwide who use such Mediterranean materials and resources as clay and wrought iron.
Constellations comprises three openwork walls located in the three arcades at the theatre’s main entrance. The work is integrated without affecting any other earlier feature previously incorporated into the façade that was created by Oriol Mestres in 1874 and recovered in 2019.
The doors of Liceu (Constellations) have benefitted from the collaboration of the ACS Foundation and the support of the Department of Culture of the Generalitat de Catalunya within the 2014-2020 ERDF OP in the field of performing and musical arts facilities.
Constellations, doors that invite the public to enter
‘Letters seem to me a beautiful metaphor of society: a single letter is nothing, but with others it can form words and concepts; this is the power of the community’ - Jaume Plensa
The work that Jaume Plensa has created for the Gran Teatre del Liceu is a paean to peaceful coexistence among the different identities that make up the world. The play of alphabets used by the artist is a metaphor for the great cultural richness and diversity around us, opening the Gran Teatre del Liceu to a new dialogue with society. The three doors integrate and embellish the façade of the Gran Teatre del Liceu and bring it up to date with the twenty-first century. Created by one of the most universal Catalan artists, Constellations, with its strong aesthetic and reflective value, has been permanently installed for current and future generations.
The structure of the work consists of three openwork fences located in the three arches of the main entrance to the theatre on the Rambla, which include letters in different alphabets. The play of alphabets is one of the distinguishing features of the author's work, and the following alphabets converge at the gates of the Liceu: Greek, Cyrillic, Indian, Hebrew, Arabic, Tamil, Chinese, Japanese and Latin. ‘Starting from the Latin alphabet of my Mediterranean roots, I have gradually introduced different alphabets and ideograms of different origins. The variety of forms among the alphabets, with their unique beauty, have enriched the metaphor of the vast diversity of the world. Each alphabet is a precise portrait that summarises and describes its cultural origin', says Jaume Plensa.
‘These doors are, therefore, a paean to the hope of positive globalism. They do not seek to standardise the alphabets but celebrate the beauty of seeing very different cultures mixed together while maintaining their own identity.’ And he adds that ‘Constellations represents La Rambla as a meeting place, where the Liceu does not look at origins or backgrounds, music being an element that makes all citizens equal through its universal language.’
Regarding the material chosen (316L stainless steel, six millimetres thick), it is in keeping with the Mediterranean tradition, which is characterised by the use of humble, everyday materials such as dirt, glass, iron, wood, mud, ceramics, etc. in spatial installations. The sinuous shape of the letters that make up the doors perfectly engages in dialogue with the work of Joan Miró (Pla de l'Os mosaic), located a few metres from the opera house on the Rambla, thus forging a symbolic and indeed physical union between two Catalan artists recognised around the world.