Benesse Art Site, Naoshima Japan 2014
This is my third journey to Japan, each visit reveals another layer, different from the last, building in complexity. Negotiating typhoons, I landed at Narita airport and continued on to Takamatsu to the island of Shikoku. Up early in the morning with no time for jet lag I travelled by train to the Isamu Noguchi museum. Being an architect and artist it was the perfect combination on my first day in Japan. A feast for all senses. I was permitted to take this photo of his signature on one of the finished sculptures.
After a short ferry trip to the island of Naoshima, what had begun as a feast transformed into an opulent banquet of contemporary art, architecture and food. Benesse Art Site comprises several museums, Art House Projects, hotel, and restaurants on different islands within the Seto Inland Sea. I was very fortunate that my friend Mitsue was able to help me navigate the different venues.
I was extremely impressed with most of the work, but beyond that, the reverence for contemporary artists and their work is the highest I have encountered.
Lee Ufan – one of my mentors – has an entire building designed by Tado Ando dedicated to his work.
James Turrell has several works including a 45 minute night viewing program of Open Sky. An incredible opportunity to really experience the phenomena of light, color and sky interacting.
However all these works were surpassed by a unique and sublime collaboration of art, architecture and nature by artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa on the island of Teshima. A bike ride on a perfect morning brought Mitsue and I to the Teshima Art Museum – museum is a completely inadequate word for the experience of this place. In fact words are useless. Photos are not permitted of most art works at the Benesse Art site, and this was no exception – I am particularly grateful in this instance as it preserves the spiritual nature of this profound permanent site-specific installation. Photos are useless – you just have to be there!
I can barely see the adjacent building, rain drops are in a race with gravity across the window of my hotel room as typhoon Vonfong rages outside…and I wonder what other encounters are on the menu during my visit.