The words Beauty, Inspiration, Magic, Spellbound, Enchantment, as well as the concepts of Serenity, Silence, Intimacy and Amazement, all these have nestled in my soul.
In his early work, though described by Barragan as “edificitos” or little buildings and “nothing great”, one finds this emotive and sensorial progression through space, through framing a view, harnessing exterior light and craftmanship in creating tactile and beautiful designs in the most mundane of objects, as metal mail slots, exquisitely crafted.
It is this attention to the experience of architecture, the experience of living in a space, that marks his early work, though modest. With expansive geometric paned windows, white walls to mark the progression of light, with this understanding of light and shadow adding depth to interiors, we see the early influence of Corbusier and foundations for his later work.
Though, it is in this later work that one understands Barragán’s magic. Moving from his early white interiors, he was later acclaimed for his sense of colour. With colour, he retained silence and serenity while filling interiors with the heat and energy of the Mexican landscape and local architecture, adding texture through colonial objects and folk art, to create his own modernism. He created a complex succession of indoor and outdoor spaces to incorporate both the beauty and the scents of the gardens he crafted. Through changes in height, texture and the addition of optical tricks he altered the viewers perception and experience. In these ways, he created a genuinely unique, “enchanting and magical” experience, aesthetic emotion.
As Octavio Paz, the Mexican writer and Noble laureate wrote, “The art of Barragán is modern but not modernist … His architecture was inspired by two words: the word magic and the word surprise”.
Areas of inspiration: Colour, the purity of line, light and shadow, texture through natural materials, the beauty of simplicity and clean angles, sculptural staircases, incorporating nature into the interiors, through framing of views and open spaces