Naoshima is full of interesting art. If you’re just staying for a day or two, it will be difficult to experience all of it.
Chichu Museum of Art
Tadao Ando was asked to build a art museum on the top of one of the hills in Naoshima. According to rumor, his response was that buildings on hills just makes the landscape ugly. So he hid the museum underground instead. In spite of this, all the light comes from openings in the roof. This makes the look of the museum different depending on the time of the day and the weather conditions. To experience the art by Claude Monet, James Tyrell and Walter de Maria, in a structure designed exclusively to house the art on display, is a very unique experience and one that comes highly recommended to anyone visiting the island.
Chichu Museum of Art
Only a few minutes away on electric bike, the prefered means of transport on hilly Naoshima, you will get what’s perhaps the most iconic piece of art on the island — Yayoi Kusama’s polka-dotted yellow pumpkin, situated on a pier surrounded by perfect beaches and the Seto Inland Sea, has become a symbol of the island, and is often featured on posters and on the opening photograph of newspaper stories about Naoshima. There’s also another pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama on the island, a red one, located near the ferry port in Miyanoura, but it’s not nearly as popular as the yellow one.
Another eye-catching public art piece is Sou Fujimoto’s geometric structure Naoshima Pavilion, located near the port. This piece is one of the newest on the Island, put in place for the 2016 edition of the Setouche Triennale.
Art House Project
Continue along the coastal road for another fifteen minutes and you’ll reach Honmura, the biggest collection of residential houses on the island. Scattered around the village is “the art house project”. Seven abandoned structures, including what used to be people’s homes as well as a shinto shrine, turned into art pieces by artists like Tatsuo Miyajima, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Shinro Otake.
Our favorite was Minamidera, a collaboration between Tadao Ando and James Tyrell (just like a part of the Chichu Art Museum). We won’t reveal too much about the art piece on display here, as that would be spoiling the fun for prospective visitors, but we think those of you who are afraid of the dark might have a hard time enjoying it to its full extent.
I ♡ Yu
Art House Project
A combination of a sento (public bath house) and an art gallery. Getting soaked in the relaxing water while enjoying the eclectic mix of art on display, including a big elephant sculpture, mural paintings and erotic art on the floor of the bath, is a unique experience indeed. There’s also a small shop in the entrance that sells towels, t-shirts, shampoo and body soap.
Tadao Ando is the self-taught architect behind many of the structures on the island. He’s also the mastermind behind many other famous structures, such as Omotesando Hills in Tokyo. Since the 2013 Triennale, Ando have had his own museum on the island. The inside is a mix of a traditional Japanese interior design and Tadao Ando’s material of choice — raw concrete. A must for anyone interested in contemporary architecture, as well as the history of the island.
Quirky galleries by local talents
Besides all the famous artwork by well-known creators, there are also several smaller, locally run art galleries where local talents show their own work. What is sometimes lacking in quality is made up for by a lot of charm and passion. A few examples of local galleries that we found was one specializing in art made by used cans. Another one was located in a garage by a man who makes art out of marine buoys. There’s a lot to explore if you venture past the major roads and deep into the residential areas of Naoshima.
Posts by Said Karlsson