Luis Gueilburt was born in Argentina in 1950 and has lived in Barcelona since 1978. The sculptor completed his Fine Arts studies - with a specialization in Sculpture - at the Municipal School of Avellaneda. He has been the director of the Center of Gaudinist Studies since 1994.
- When did Luis Gueilburt discover Gaudí?
It's impossible to come to Barcelona and not discover Gaudí; Gaudí's work pretty much falls right on top of you; his work has such potency that, although you may not be interested in the architecture, you become impressed by the details of the work. Then, I began to invesitgate, to look, to visit a few of the buildings - first as a tourist - and I began to discover his work.
In little time, before 1980, I was giving classes at a sculpting school, and there was a Brazilian architecture student who was doing a doctorate class on Architecture in Barcelona and was studying in the "Cátedra Gaudí." Then he introduced me to Professor Bassegoda in a guided visit that he gave through the Barcelona cathedral. Bassegoda showed himself to be interested in my work, and after a few days had passed, I went and paid him a visit.
After seeing some of my work, he asked me if I would dare to restore the grill of the dragon at Finca Güell. I was shocked, as I wasn't expecting a proposal like that; I excitedly accepted the job and dedicated myself to making a new toungue for the head of the dragon, fashioning some new weldings, and restoring another part of the door. This impressed me greatly.
- What motivated him to renovate the tavern started by César Martinell with the Center of Gaudinist Studies?
Studying the work of Gaudí, I was entrusted to do a few other restorations and, above all, reproductions for an exposition that was put on by La Caixa de Pensiones and spread to 18 different countries in 7 or 8 years. One of the places the exposition traveled to was Buenos Aires, and being the only Argentinian that had worked on the exposition, the Generality invited me to give a conference on the theme. This obligated me to study Gaudí's work even more, because I felt like I had to, not being able to understand much about architectural subjects that were not included in my specialty; and with the years, I began to internalize more and more the theme of Gaudí; I worked for nine years as a restorer at the museum in Park Güell, which was the house where Gaudí lived.
Stemming from a few interventions and restorations that I didn't see very clearly in distinct buildings in the works of Gaudí, I did an exposition with pieces Gaudí's work which had been removed in certain restorations which I had been collecting and incorporating into my sculptoral work. During the time of this exposition, which was held at the College for Master Builders and Technical Architects of Barcelona, I called together a round-table to give the opportunity to speak to the different architects who had restored Gaudí's works in order to see what intervention line they were following, to see if they were all following the same line of thought, or if there were varying lines of thought. At the end of the intervention, I spoke up about what I had feared would be - that each was feeling quite inspired by Gaudí's work as they restored, but that each was working in his own distinct way.
From then on, I asserted that there must be a center for Gaudí studies. During that round table, I was informed that such an entity already existed; so, working with architect Toshiaki Tange, we began to revitalize this Center for Gaudinist Studies, which had been founded by Cësar Martinell in 1956 but had been halted after his death. Moreover, I found, in the historic archive of the College of Architects, letters written by César Martinell asking that someone continue his work. This invoked us to follow some guidelines which he (Martinell) had written which outlined how the Center was to be.