Heaven

Naoshima is an island ensconced in the Seto Sea.

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The concise version of its story goes like this-  Local boy grows up, makes Good, returns to revive its failing economy with art.  Architect extraordinaire Tadao Ando is tasked with his ambition, and now anyone can come and enjoy a very sophisticated, private collection of contemporary art, the sea, and its surrounds.

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I’m struggling to pen my experience here.  It is unlike anywhere else I have ever been.  If there really is Heaven, I hope it looks like this.

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Or like this.

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God?  I don’t mind this either…

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Naoshima is perhaps an unparalleled experience because there exists a prevailing sense of nature, art and architecture, in perfect balance.  Tadao Ando who insists on respect towards nature in his work, has created structures that are as complex and powerful, as they are simple, and modest.

 

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At the Chichu Museum for instance, the building is burrowed deep into the earth, as if seeking refuge within the undulating hills.  There are no visible exterior surfaces.  Inside, one encounters the wit of artist James Turrell, and the longings of Monet.  (Note:  No photography is permitted.  Shoes must be removed, and it is sacrilegious to re-apply lipstick while standing in the presence of the Waterlilies…)

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Art is everywhere, housed indoors and planted outdoors;

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man and nature, co-existing,

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tolerant of each other.

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For the first time in my life, I am asked to consider physical darkness and shadows as, art.

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Discarded pieces of steel, metal, a nod to the island’s past, are re-purposed into expressions of serenity and hope.

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Abandoned traditional homes, some over 100-years old, are re-articulated as stories of humour, of time, of loss, and always, of calm.

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It is a place that is at once provocative, inspiring, and healing.  It is a place, I can see myself, growing old in.

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Nature becomes the painting we walk through, walk towards.

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And in keeping with Japanese thought, even the most ordinary task of  breakfast, becomes an exquisite blurring of borders of what life and art can be.

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Art imitates life, life imitates art.

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The sculptured body, meets sculptured marble; concrete walls rise to meet the sky.  In my imagination, a chorus of angels, the song of wind.

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In my heart, a stillness pulsating.

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Listen.  This is what Heaven feels like for me.

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