Wednesday 2 November 2011

Fine Arts: James Turrell in Naoshima

...feel the delight of light...

You really have to experience James Turrell's work in order to understand it.  I never really thought much about the artist before encountering his work in Naoshima, Japan.  I only vaguely remembered his name from one of my art history classes.  He's apparently most famous for his ambitious project, Roden Crater, an open-eye observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona. 

I instead got acquainted with two different artworks: Backside of the Moon and Open Field.


Picture of the plaque outside Minamidera

The Benesse Art Site is quite awesome in itself, but one of the best works was no doubt Backside of the Moon.  There is a bit of procedure when entering the room, but we weren't told much about what the work will actually consist of.  We were first directed into a very dark room and sat on a bench while "looking" at what lies in front of us.  I think we had to sit for maybe 8 minutes before our eyes adjusted to the very faint light source.

Once our eyes adjusted, we were allowed to walk around, and towards the source.  It was a strange rectangular "hole" in the wall.  I put my head out, like looking out a window, and it felt like falling into nothingness... but this nothingness was a hazy, misty, dim light (which complements the black-nothingness we were first introduced to when walking in the dark.)

It was cool. A bit creepy. And rather meditative.

Outside of Minamidera

Chichu Art Museum

Next up was the Chichu Art Museum.  A little bit on the pricey side, but really worth it.  As much as I loved Turrell's Open Field, I have to admit that the best part of the museum was the building itself (designed by architect Tadao Ando).  It was SO COOL!   Such a weird conception of space, and I loved the open-air concept. 

But back on the subject of Open Field... Once again, I thought it was a bit of a "creepy" experience, but this time, it felt like I was in some strange lab experiment.  We first walked into a clean white room and were directed to the black steps.  We all walked up and went into the blue-ish room.  It was a bit like walking into an abstract painting!

The room was more like white-blue.  The guide, who was dressed in white, even disappeared in the background, lol.  It was cool.  Less meditative than Backside of the Moon, but still thought-provoking nonetheless.


If I were to describe these two works, I'd summarize them as interactive, real-life Rothko paintings.  I personally love Rothko so this is a good thing for me... but I just got that vibe when experiencing Turrell's works.

Minamidera and the Chichu Art Museum are located on the island of Naoshima, Kagawa-ken, Japan.  I visited these sites on October 16th, 2011.

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