Wrightwood 659 is an enigmatic exhibition space that explores the role of art in our dystopian society. Upon entering, no monuments are conceited enough to capture all your attention so your eyes are left to wander. Look up and you’ll realize how little you are in this monstrous room. The ceiling, walls, and stairs are all composed of intentionally unique material that give them the ability to have a conversation without interrupting each other.
The brick walls feel warm and reminiscent of 20th century Chicago, while the cool concrete steps usher up a bit of anxiety — building excitement for the journey to come. Designed by the famed Tadao Ando, the space explores how simple construction materials can be used in magnificent ways.
Immediately to the left of the second floor exhibit entrance sleeps a smoothly combed structure standing no more than a few feet high. The architectural model is a recreation of the legendary Naoshima Island, but it more closely resembles a gentle ocean current trapped in time as the tiny mountains transform into whitecaps that flow into a smooth silhouette. Sleeping on the coast of Naoshima are blue hues representing the separation of the larger blue world and our own.
The buildings of Naoshima are a rare example of architecture that shares a stage with nature rather than fighting for the lead role. Calmly resting on the contours of Naoshima, each building looks at peace, leaving you to believe they’ve always been there. One museum manages to pierce the flesh of the island but does so in a way that illustrates respect. Foliage twists, covers, and intersect every protruding part of the museum. All throughout Naoshima, Tadao Ando speaks volumes by saying less. If you ever have the fortune to visit a Tadao Ando creation you’ll be able to appreciate how he’s learned to co-create with the elements around him.
At the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, geometric glass walls allow the full beauty of the sun to be recognized. The glass exterior coupled with reflections from the surrounding pools force the environment to be reckoned with.
Every step taken throughout the museum is planned by Ando, as he compels you to feel the natural forces surrounding you. Marvelous, but deeply meditative best describes the experience of walking through Ando’s art. Even a novice eye can appreciate the serenity of his design. The subtle, pervasive themes of environment, light, and simple materials compose a nonpareil Ando-esque adventure.