George Rickey Three Squares Vertical Diagonal 1972-82

Now for Naoshima | Art in Japan’s Inland Sea Part I

There are must see places and there are must see again places. Naoshima is both.  Once is good, twice is better. This is only appropriate, since Naoshima encompasses several museums, public art installations and spreads over several islands located in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. Getting there is a process and actually enhances the experience: bullet train to bus to ferry to bicycle or van. Once you arrive on Naoshima, you enter another world.

Naoshima, Benesse Park Hotel, Japan
Sunrise reflecting on the Benesse Park hotel

Summer is hot and crowded: autumn is the time to visit.  The place to stay is Benesse House, a four-building complex that is a museum as well as hotel. Moreover, hotel guests have access to some of the galleries after hours. It would take a book to do justice to the experience (and there are several good ones). This post and the following will provide an introduction at best.

YayoiKusama, pumpkin, Naoshima
Yayoi Kusama’s phenomenal pumpkin is one of the first artworks encountered

Yayoi Kusama great yellow pumpkin sits on a pier jutting into the Inland Sea. It may be the piece of art most closely associated with Naoshima.  There is a second slightly squatter pumpkin in primary red located just south of the Naoshima Ferry Terminal and it is possible to climb inside!

Dan Graham, Benesse House
Dan Graham’s “Cylinder Bisected by Plane” on the Benesse Park grounds

Art work is literally everywhere at Benesse House: in the hallways, courtyards, and gardens in addition to specific gallery space. Dan Graham‘s work shown above is actually a “room” with reality-altering mirrors. George Rickey‘s kinetic sculptures below interact with their environment.

George Rickey Peristyle V 1963-95_Naoshima
George Rickey’s Peristyle V 1963-95
George Rickey Three Squares Vertical Diagonal 1972-82
George Rickey’s Three Squares Vertical Diagonal 1972-82 overlooks Seto Inland Sea

Hiroshi Sugimoto is particularly well represented with photographs, sculpture and installations within the Benesse complex, as well as elsewhere on Naoshima. One of my favorites is the piece inset into the cliffs adjacent to Benesse House.

Hiroshi Sugimoto Time Exposed

Part II will explore more of Naoshima as well as Inujima, one of the other island art sites.

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