The Unexpected Encounter

1/11/2022 – 5/09/2023

Daniel Libeskind on Studio Weil “The Unexpected Encounter”

I cannot really explain it; If I could, I don’t think I would have done the building.
Barbara Weil’s studio was a lucky project to a single client who is an artist who commissioned me to do a very modest but very important building in my oeuvre.
Barbara is not just anyone, is not just a painter or an artist. She is a unique soul in the world of art. She inspired me because she was a great artist whose work, really was powerful.

Studio Weil was conceived in, as a method in a mystical way because art is mystical, you know, Barbara Weil’s work is mystical, it’s not just some figurative obvious representation of something. It’s a world that opens into wonders of thought and meditation. Anybody looking at Barbara’s colourful amazing works would instantly see that there is a contrapuntal relationship between her forms and this building in which they hang. Weil’s work has a place to be seen, where that work can live and breathe in an atmosphere that is conducive to it; which gives enough oxygen for the work to live on its own and to be seen on its own. And so the building is a really a counterpart; it’s a background to the work as I conceived it. And yet, its very much a partner to reinforce the power of Barbara’s work and to show its importance in the tradition of art, both in Mallorca, in Europe and beyond it.

One of the ideas that occurred to me was the connection of Mallorca to the things I loved about Mallorca (which I had never visited before) which is Ramon Llull. Ramon Llull the great mystic, the great philosopher you can say the inventor of the computer in many ways, came from Mallorca. And he invented those amazing wheels which had letters, Hebrew and Latin letters, numbers which you could rotate and create new relationships conceptually and mystically. I though this was appropriate when I looked at Barbara’s work. That work also was emblematic in many ways. It had a resonance with meaning which were not just obvious in the abstraction itself, they were referring to many other things outside of themselves.

And his idea of deity, his idea of god, yeah, I found it on the island and I found it also, you know, whether Barbara ever had those thoughts it didn’t matter because it was in her work as well.
That kind of strange displacement from the expected into something very clear and transparent. The character of art itself so I think Barbara Weil’s work and Ramon Llull and this house is a small celebration of the unexpected encounter.

So the relationship to Ramón Llull here is not just a figment of my imagination, it’s definitely in the island. Its in the center that the island proposes in the vast geography surrounding it and I think those wheels that rotate and continue to rotate in the world emanate from somewhere and they emanate from this place.
The circulation system in Barbara’s Weil’s studio is very unusual it’s not really a building just with a stair connecting all the levels in an obvious way.

There are interferences in terms of what you’re expected and not expected to find in the view around you in the environment and I thought that was really appropriate because Barbara Weil’s work is like that, there’s sudden shifts in it, sudden points of light, sudden disconnections that give you the composition itself and so the house, let’s say, the stairs, are split, they’re not continuous and they give you really a different segment of reality which you of course experience as a whole by walking through the building and by enjoying the artworks. It’s really, in my mind, a mirror image of Barbara’s work.

So, the idea of harmony isn’t just a metaphor in architecture, it’s a direct relationship to the acoustics of a building. And so, working on any project I’m always very aware that the ear is the organ of orientation, not the eye. It’s really, you know, we are balanced in the inner ear before we actually are stabilised, you know, by our sense of sight and so every building that I’ve done, particularly this one has had a close relationship (in my own work) to the idea of music.

Working with Barbara Weil was really a unique joy because first of all it was the smallest project I ever did. Prior to it I did museums and large scale projects. I never did a small project. Never did a house or a studio. But I discovered very quickly that the intimate scale is the cosmic scale. The intimate scale isn’t just smaller that a large scale project but actually opens the world into the wonders of architecture.

Isn’t it Hamlet who said, “If I could contract myself to live in a nutshell, I could be the king of infinite space, except for the bad dreams that I have”.

And that’s really the strange miraculous attraction between the small and the grand, between the domestic and the cosmic, between the individual and the universal.

The wheel, the circle of memory, which the house really represents, the story represents, is really about memory its about art its about what is worth remembering and it’s also a guide to that memory it leads you in many ways sometimes ways which are not obvious to a kind of labyrinth of experiences that presents you with memory itself, of the person, of the art, of it’s meaning and of the world in which it thrives.

Daniel Libeskind 2021 NYC