Naoshima – an art island in the Seto Inland Sea
My comments are simply to record my superficial impressions and to trigger memories. This place is so unique, it is worth anyone interested doing more reading about it.
A benefactor financed it and self-taught architectural genius Tadao Ando designed the three monumental buildings that house 3 distinct art museums on this island. Much of the art is in the landscape outside the museums.
The grand museum buildings are designed to stand alone in nature surrounded by mountains and sea; each houses different collections. Benesee House Museum has an international collection, my favourite being Jonathan Borofsky’s Three Chattering Men.
The Chichu Museum has a small collection including 3 Monets which were large but not his best. I was overwhelmed by the almost religious respect the museum expected for its works, shoes off, only a few admitted at any time. The queue for the James Turrell took half an hour.
The third museum of polished concrete half underground evoked the pyramids in its solidity, scale and serenity; it was built specifically to house the work of the Korean artist Lee Ufan.
In the small fishing village nearby the art ethos is spreading with a project to transform some old wooden houses, enabling artists to turn the spaces themselves into artworks. From an over ground/underground glass staircase at a shrine to a sensory deprivation experience inside one house, the whole visit is a treat. The Ando museum is housed in the village.
At the apple counter in a Kyoto bookshop, I had told (via a translation App) the girl helping that I was off to Naoshima. When I returned for the Ipad a few hours later, I found a photocopy about the Turrell sensory deprivation installation with a note saying it was her favorite place. Such thoughtfulness!
I understand why such an installation would appeal in a population of more than 127 million people.
The rest of the family stayed in a yurt by the seashore 5 minutes away from my grand lodgings. One night in a weirdly deserted street near there we found a small restaurant run by a man and wife who cooked the best Okonomiyaki I have ever had. The real deal!
I stayed in the very grand Benesse House designed by the master himself. Consistent with the ethos of reflection and grandeur there is no TV and the wifi is elusive.
What better place I thought to have a Japanese degustation.
In the Museum restaurant I sat gazing at a truly beautiful seascape in the dying light. Had I known I would have about faced as there were 4 Andy Warhol Flowers paintings on the wall behind. The meal was disappointing in contrast.
Beside the fishing village where the art transformation is happening, the old port has its charms too.