Observing Light | A Labyrinth of Light and Darkness Embedded in the Earth

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24/08/2022 -Designed by Tadao Ando and located on Japan’s art island; Naoshima, the Chichu Art Museum houses the works of just three artists ; Claude Monet, James Turrell and Walter de Maria. As suggested by its name, (chichu means ‘in the ground’ in Japanese) most of the Chichu Art Museum is embedded underground, further exploring Ando’s ideas of “architecture that blends into the scenery”.

The entrance to the museum is accessed at ground level. Visitors then follow a series of unlit corridors, ramps and staircases that create a pensive light journey guided only by the natural light that flows into the passages via tilted slits in the concrete.

Three art spaces are implanted into the subterranean labyrinth of light and shadow. Each one dedicated to one of the three represented artists and “emerged from an uncompromising collaboration” between artists and directors. 

The James Turrell space contains 3 installations. The dimensions and materials for each room were determined by the artist according to the conditions of each work.

In the Walter de Maria space, Illumination pours in from a long east-west skylight, changing over the course of a day.

The Monet space contains 5 works from his Water Lilles series. Soft indirect light suffuses the interior of rough plastered walls and "pixel" marble flooring. 

In the Chichu Art Museum, Ando did not merely make boxes to contain art, but has taken on the role of being one more artist”. ”

Tadao Ando 3 - Inside Japan.

Recommended reading on Tadao Ando:

GA Architect 16 Tadao Ando 1994-2000

Tadao Ando 3 Inside Japan.