Tony Trehy recently introduced me to the Artist Marsha McDonald. Marsha will be creating fictional work for a fictional art show, in a fictional art gallery in Tony's fictional world. Marsha once lived in Japan. She said something interesting to me - 'but part of me is in Japan'.
I was very drawn to Japan as an early teenager. The mystical elevation of discipline and technique in all fields. Even the making of a comb transcends into a spiritual practice. Zen made a lot of sense to me. Mainly because I began studying a Japanese form of karate at the age of 13. I still practice it now. The removal of intellectual conscious thought, surrendering to the flow of the ever changing circumstances of combat. I loved the idea that it was even possible to methodically train towards this lack of structure.
It was no surprise to me when I started studying architecture that the same esoteric forces were also alive in contemporary Japanese design. So I sort of know what Martha meant. But in a different way.
When I visited Japan in 2001 I felt like an alien. I spent a month riding the bullet train looking at contemporary and traditional architecture. I had some sublime experiences. My god - the Ryoan-ji stone garden blew my mind into a million pieces. And Ando's Church of the light - what is there to say? I also had a profound moment with Monet's waterlily's at Ando's Oyamazaki Museum in Kyoto. A project you can't possibly understand from photos (drawings maybe - if you know drawing).
I didn't penetrate Japanese culture at all. But I do resonate with their Art - Art in it's broadest sense encompassing all of existence. Across culture and race. As can be seen in Rothko's apparitions.
29/11/2022 02:52:12 pm
One of my most memorable architectural experiences was when I saw Ando's meditation space in the peace garden UNSCO, Paris. Then Ando's only built work in the UK gets all the haters, such a shame his work was not understood.
29/11/2022 05:10:52 pm
Hi Ste, thanks for the comment. Yes he is the master. But, I’m told he never visited Manchester and it’s pretty clear he didn’t understand the site or the culture. For me it’s spectacularly reassuring to see that great architecture goes way beyond what it appears to be - concrete walls.
29/11/2022 05:46:57 pm
Maybe I am guilty of taking Ando's reputation and thinking how could anything he does be a mistake. I haven't seen piccadilly gardens myself, but I do know that when people don't understand something it's not always justified to be in opposition to it. As we well know 🙄
29/11/2022 07:09:43 pm
…..I saw a lot of similar Ando urban schemes in Japan that were really mundane. All architects have their bread and butter jobs.
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