Philosophers, scientists, artists, architects. These and many others are the prominent figures of the 18th century in France and Europe. Leading figures, whom with their thinking and charisma, are still remembered for their contribution to an epoch of political changes, renewed ideals and revolutionary discoveries, in a period of time stretching from the Age of Enlightenment to the French Revolution. During this epoch, the physical universe, no more alien and mysterious, finally begins to take shape and configuration, thanks to the excellence of Newton. This vibrant and evolving context creates the preconditions for the affirmation of man as an individual and as a thinker, aware of his abilities and means in a world of immense dimensions.
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Yayoi Kusama. Pumpkin Magic
19 February 2018
words: Natalie Donat-Cattin
photos: Jian Yong Khoo
“I, Kusama, am the modern Alice in Wonderland” – Yayoi Kusama
The pumpkin often has a connection with the magical world. In Cinderella, it turns into a beautiful white carriage, darting towards the dance. In the same way, it could easily be one of the strange and wonderful inhabitants of the Lewis Carroll world – out of scale, context and with no apparent purpose. If the pumpkin could talk it would ask non-sensical questions while giving absurd non-answers.
Kusama uses this object to provoke us, to create a reaction, to remind us that the world should be looked at with children’s eyes – with a sense of curiosity and of overturning conventions. It indulges us to shape it in our dreams: change it in size, exaggerate it, enlarge it, shrink it. Her works offers us carte blanche: they are endless fairytales, objects abandoned in nature and space in order to stimulate our imagination.
The pumpkin comes from the earth and eventually detaches from it. In Naoshima it sits on a pier, between the beach and the sea. As every man, it yearns to the horizon, still tied to its roots. It stands out on the blue background thanks to its bright yellow colour, shining between the sky and the sea. It is a small point in the universe, reminding us of our humanity yet inviting us to dare, to go further.
“In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream- Lingering in the golden gleam- Life, what is it but a dream?” – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
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Walk up the steps, cross the pronaos, rush through the first room, enter the main courtyard and look up: you will be rendered speechless. The modern roof designed by Fosters and Partners hovers above you. 3312 glazing panels frame 3312 triangular slices of sky. This is the heart of the British Museum.
What is the best house for an art museum if not art itself? With an open heart and bones of steel, the Pompidou Centre towers naked above the French roofs of the 4th arrondissement. Among them it stands out, an alien surrounded by mortals. A myriad of pipes wraps the back of the building: not to protect it but to make it work.
If the essence of architecture – its intrinsic and determining constituent – is empty space, every man has experienced an archetypal feeling when visiting the Pantheon. Confined in an immense space, we can never embrace its entirety. Ignorant but curious, we marvel at how such a great dome can stand. Questions whose answers lie in subtle ploys: secrets buried within the structure and the material.
Water temple, designed by Tadao Ando, hides in the inland of Awaji Island. Despite its close proximity to the sea (only a 15 min walk) the building turns its back to the ocean to embrace the hillside. The road to reach it, is deserted and steep: a series of greenhouses and fields are the only panorama’s highlights.