Japanese Sculptor Found the Faith by Studying Antoni Gaudí

Etsuro Sotoo's Testimony at Communion-and-Liberation Meeting

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RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Fascinated by the works of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo discovered the Catholic faith while working in the Church of the Holy Family, in Barcelona.



The sculptor, renowned in Japan, spoke about his faith experience Sunday at the meeting organized by Communion and Liberation in the town of Rimini, during a conference entitled "The Window Men: Freedom in Art."

On a visit to Barcelona in 1978, Sotoo was fascinated by the expiatory Church of the Holy Family, the unfinished masterpiece of Gaudí (1852-1926), and requested permission to remain in the Catalan city to work as a sculptor. Gaudí's cause for beatification is under way.

"To understand Gaudí, it was necessary to know what he wanted to do with those sculptures, with that marvelous building, which was not just a work of art," explained Sotoo.

"I tried to get inside him and I questioned the stones," the Japanese sculptor said. "I wondered what Gaudí would have done in my place. It was necessary to discover what was behind this stone."

God's collaborator

Sotoo did not find answers to these questions until he understood that he did not have to "look at Gaudí, but in the direction in which Gaudí looked."

According to the Japanese artist, the imposing character of the church is not meant to be the display of the proud power of an artist, but a work dedicated and maintained by God, of whom Gaudí regarded himself a collaborator, to the point that he did not want to put his personal name to the project.

Sotoo, who requested baptism in 1989, said that since his conversion, his way of working has not changed, but it "is easier and more secure" and fills him with "pleasure and freedom."

"Gaudí's architecture indicates, it does not oblige, it is something human," Sotoo said. "This is also Jesus' way. He does not oblige us to do anything, but guides us. And this way we can be much happier and secure."

Etsuro Sotoo ended his address at the Rimini meeting stating that "the artist, as Gaudí said, collaborates with his work in God's creation; in this way, freedom and happiness are possible. This is the only way man must follow."