Tadao Ando 安藤忠雄 | 20181122 Naoshima Shikoku

This one is about architecture, especially about Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s work. I know nothing about the technical side of architecture just like I know nothing about art. So forgive me for talking nonsense. But I do have an appreciation for beautiful things. (Plus this post is mainly to tempt our friend, Vano, even more, for a visit to Japan.) So here you go.

We were on Naoshima today. The first time we left Japan’s Honshu island behind and set foot on Shikoku. The sole purpose was to see the “art islands” in this area, where Setouchi Triennale* is hosted every three years (next exhibition year is 2019!). It is reported that during the festival seasons, the islands are very busy and crowded. So we planned to visit now when local people’s everyday lives are not disturbed by ferry-loads of tourists.

A screenshot of the front page of setouchi-artfest.jp

*The Setouchi Triennale (also known as the Setouchi International Art Festival) is a contemporary art festival held every three years on a dozen islands in the Seto Inland Sea (Setonaikai), the sea which separates Honshu and Shikoku, two of Japan’s main islands. It was first held in 2010. – japan-guide.com

This is our second encounter with the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The museum is called Chichu Art Museum, literally “art museum in the earth”. The building is designed by Tadao Ando and is mostly underground but the artworks inside were mostly lit by natural light. Artworks by Claude Monet, James Turrell, and Walter De Maria are on permanent display.

The museum does not allow photography so I add here a few photos from the official website to give you an idea:

Chichu Art Museum from above. Each shape is the “roof” of part of the building. Photo: benesse-artsite.jp/en/art/chichu.html
A very typical look of Ando! Photo: benesse-artsite.jp/en/art/chichu.html

Our first encounter with Ando was in March 2017 when we went to 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo (one of my favourite museums! More of the exhibition, see my post here). We were allowed to take photos in there so just to give you some more visual aid of his style:

And here is a brief glimpse of Ando Museum we passed today, a small architecture design, also on Naoshima:

So here are the things I find special about Ando’s architecture from an amateur point of view:

  1. Concrete is the obvious one.
  2. Many lines are on a slight slant. And at many places, these lines are all at a slant next to each other. It plays with your perception of the vertical and the horizontal lines (just look at all my wonky photos!).
  3. There are many sharp angles (related to point 2) which are rarely used in normal buildings (though you can find them in the living rooms of St. James Village flats in Gateshead!) because they’re more difficult to make use of.
  4. It’s fascinating to look at the building itself. But when the exhibition needs to take the centre stage, the architecture humbly disappears into the background. I find this in both Chichu Art Museum and 21_21 Design Sight.

There are so many more things to see on these “art islands”, I feel like we have to come back again to explore a bit more (I’m looking at you Vano!).

P.S. Here’s a map of where we were today!


3 thoughts on “Tadao Ando 安藤忠雄 | 20181122 Naoshima Shikoku

  1. Hi thanks for the kind comment and sorry for only noticing it now! I wish I had read your blog before I went and I’ll definitely look at your blog for ideas and advice when I plan for the next trip to Japan!

  2. Very enjoyable article! The architecture of Ando is really something interesting, and kind of forces the visitor to react/examine themselves in the spaces he creates. I completely agree with your assessment that the structure, when presenting art (for example) retreats from view. Nicely put.

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