Naoshima island (off Okayama Prefecture, Japan) manages to maintain its quaint Japanese rural town feel, but contrasts it so well with the modern art that’s scattered all over the island.
Featuring artworks and architecture by Claude Monet, Walter De Maria, James Turrel and Tadao Ando, Chichu Art Museum is one such modern scattering. I must admit, I’m a little embarrassed of my post museum visit reaction. After viewing paintings by Claude Monet, I had similar feelings to that of having just met a celebrity. I realized I’ve never seen famous works of art up close and personal before. And now I’m hooked! The pure size of the paintings was kind of mesmerizing.
The museum is best described by Soichiro Fukutake, the director of Chichu Art Museum and President of Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum Foundation. In the Chichu handbook I purchased, he states:
As suggested by its name, chichu (underground), this museum is built below a slightly elevated hill that was once developed as a saltpan facing the Seto Inland Sea. Without destroying the beautiful natural scenery of the Seto Inland and seeking to create a site for dialogues of the mind, this museum is an expression of my belief that “art must exist amid nature.”
Claude Monet is an artist who expressed himself while continually confronting nature as he created artworks. Walter De Maria and James Turrel are influenced in some way by Monet’s attitude towards nature and having metaphorically continued to express visions of the universe using the earth as a canvas. Likewise, Tadao Ando, an architect who questions the relationship between the environment and architecture, activates the nature of the Seto Inland Sea. It is my intension that the artworks by these four people provide visitors with an opportunity to dialogue with nature and one’s mind.
We weren’t allowed to take photographs inside the museum, so I’ll just share a few pictures from the Chichu Handbook. The photographers are Naoya Hatakeyama, Takeo Shimizu and Tetsuya Yamamoto.
Walter De Maria