Plensa defines art as "introducing beauty into people's everyday life"

La UAB investeix com a doctor 'honoris causa' a Jaume Plensa
The Faculty of Arts and Humanities played host to the first of the five honorary doctorate awards ceremonies which will be held this year in celebration of the UAB's 50th anniversary. The first award went to sculptor Jaume Plensa, who was sponsored by lecturer Jèssica Jaques.


Sculptor Jaume Plensa was awarded an honorary doctorate on 6 November at the UAB after having dedicated his career to "introducing beauty into people's everyday life", according to his acceptance speech. The event, which was presided by Rector Margarita Arboix, took place at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and marked the first of five exceptional awards ceremonies whcih will be held throughout the year in celebration of the UAB's 50th anniversary.

In his speech, Plensa spoke on the relation between the concepts of art and beauty and affirmed that "art does not serve a purpose, and that is what makes it so important! The lack of utility and practicality makes it essential to the life of human beings". Moreover, he defined beauty as "the great link that unites us all, the large 'place' where the memory of all people comes together". That is why he has seeked to "introduce beauty into people's everyday life. From the streets and squares, theatres and museums, I have tried to bring sparks of light to communities and brighten their daily life, the everyday world we all share".

According to the sculptor, "the world's noise is so intense that silence needs to be physically manufactured to make it exist. A powerful silence which permits us to listen to ourselves and understand each other, that allows us to rescue the image of all those who are trapped by the noise within numerous folds of indifference".

With regard to his work, Plensa explained that, "Every morning, when I open the door to my studio, an earthquake shakes my heart. An earthquake which knocks down walls and windows and leaves everything open; it spreads desires and dreams all around and a winds lifts up my dust with the dust of others, my life with the life of others". And he reflected upon the evolution of his art, "Little by little, with the slow pace of a lifetime, I have spread my work around the world, always trying - as and old mentor once said - that the student not notice that he is learning, because when he realises it, it will be too late because he then already knows!"

"Spreading Like Perfume"

Upon presenting the UAB's newest honorary doctorate, Plensa's sponsor Jèssica Jaques, lecturer from the Department of Aesthetics and Theory of the Arts at the UAB, described the "five audacities present in Jaume Plensa's creative process so that we can learn with him: creativity, research, originality-innovation, revolution and transference". And in particular she explained that his works "contain an extremely high degree of research into the arts, given that they present engineering and material research challenges which, when solved, have been crucial in innovating the contemporary public sculpture scene". According to Jaques, "the sculptor thinks that the power of art lies in the fact that it has no purpose and that its beauty, different from others, can spread exactly like a perfume, without permission or direction".

Rector Arboix described Plensa as "a great humanist", and praised his work by affirming that he "destroys the identity concept of the I to convert it into the We" and assured that his sculptures "have a soul and the speak to you, inspire emotions and transmit the desire to communicatet". Rector Arboix encouraged the audience to "discover his art and fall in love with it". The UAB rector also compared the audacities of the sculptor with that of the UAB, which "prepares citizens who will revolutionise culture and society". It therefore shares the "revolutionary" spirit of Plensa's art and innovates with "groundbreaking academic studies which aim to meet the needs of future challenges".

Rector Arboix also mentioned this year's remaining four honorary doctorates, corresponding to the areas of freedom of expression (Caddy Adzuba), solidarity (Marie-Paule Kieny), commitment with the Catalan language and society (Joaquim Maria Puyal) and knowledge (Lisa Randall). The ceremony also included musical performances by lecturer Francesc Cortés, who interpreted two themes by Charles Stanley (Voluntary) and J.S. Bach (Aria from Goldberg Variations), and the UAB Choir, performing the theme Universitas, composed especially for the UAB's 50th anniversary, and the traditional university song Gaudeamus igitur.

More information: The Audacity of Knowledge: 50 years UAB