Angels in the Architecture: The Art of Functioning

Viewing a piece of art in the National Galley – Veletrzni Palace

I was exhausted. Overwhelmed by the incredible amount of work I’d covered in just two hours. I spanned several centuries, visiting Czech artists such as Kubista, Mucha and Kupka to classic French painters like Monet, Degas and Van Gogh.

I just had to yawn, and not out of boredom — oh no. This was caused by something else. I was sure of it.

Their marvelous brush strokes, scattered lines, and perfect use of color, all coming together in the shape of a euphoria I could never dare imagine.
The visit to Veletrzni Palace will take anyone by surprise, especially those having no background on the building’s history prior to entering. The exterior of this squared building is bare, almost unpleasant to look at. Bleak walls of grey and long rows of large mirrors. Void of any color, the building breathes a sigh of momentary urgency — to be creative.

And that’s when you walk in.

5 floors, as well as a mezzanine of all the art you could possibly think of — spanning centuries and collections of work. I cranked my head up, trying to get an idea of how large the building was. The building is set up so that there is a hollow center with railings on every floor so that from the top floor you can look over the railing and see all the other floors below you. I thought this must be an interesting design for an art museum. It was not much later that we were briefed on the history of this interesting architecture. Vletrizni Palace, as it is still named, was built in 1928 and originally used to house trade exhibitions. The architectural style of the Palace is functionalist. Architects practicing in this style did not believe in ornate details. As they saw it, if you built a structure for its function and achieved that to the highest, the building’s true beauty would shine through.

I suppose that’s where the functionalists and I differ. It was ironic that such beautiful art is located in this functionalist building and I just had to laugh. While I do agree that we can find beauty in the simplicity of things, I don’t particularly feel we should tie ourselves down to that. As I experienced through the art work, our ability to create and to find expression in color, design and sculptures is a very precious and unique one. So why settle for less when we can have more? To make a comparison, I’ll bring up the idea of reproduction because certain religions believe sexual acts should only be saved for the mere purpose of creating life. Essentially this make sense, but what do we do with our physical emotions? and why should we restrain ourselves to the barest of functions when we can open ourselves up to the abstract and marvelous realm that we find when we truly fall in love. Our functions do not define us because we are a work of art that is constantly being molded, finding new purpose with each coming day.

Thinking in square terms, my mind rarely wandered to the abstract. Modern art shows you that it’s ok to bend those rules. You are allowed to find a world of meaning in something such as three lines, meeting at one point. It’s easy to say, “It’s abstract” but its much harder to really understand that — to grasp the idea behind the word.


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