Tadao Ando’s ‘ENDEAVORS’ exhibition at the National Art Center, Tokyo (Roppongi – Midtown area)

The great exhibition of the Iconic Architect Tadao Ando has been displayed at Tokyo National Art Center until December the 18th 2017 and it was the best way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the art pole in the heart of Tokyo.

“ENDEAVORS” was the meaningful title chosen for the exposition about the most famous living Japanese architect. We can translate this title with the word “efforts”, which expresses the final aim of showing the Japanese artist’s career path.

The exhibition itinerary was a proper walk throughout Tadao Ando’s works from the early ones to the most famous which brought Ando to be recognized worldwide as one of the most famous architect of the XXI century.

As you know, Wakapedia team is very much used to Art shows, but it was very challenging for us to deal with an exhibition 100% about architecture, so before starting our tour we have got the fantastic audio-guide, which allowed us to have a truly “real-experience” as it has been recorded directly by the artist with his characteristic accent from Osaka.

The display comprised six sections: the first one was ‘origins/houses’ – in which we could browse Tadao Ando’s early scale models of houses and buildings. After spending his teen-agers years practicing box, Ando decided to become a self-taught architect and he started with little buildings projects. In this young phase we could already see the genius of the artist, who immediately started to take into consideration the surrounding environment, constructing houses totally integrated with the nature.

Then we passed to the room called ‘light’, probably the part of the exhibition with the bigger impact. In this session we discovered the true (Japanese) soul of the architect. In fact, Tadao Ando expressed his spiritual conception behind each of his realizations by means of the light. In a quote written on the wall he stated that usually the final aim of an architect is usually to build everlasting constructions, in his case the final goal was a different one, what he wanted to do was to build something that would stuck in the memory of the spectator forever.

Here how Tadao Ando put this concept into words:

“As all things artificial, buildings are destined to weather and someday disappear. One might even say that the history of architecture represent humanity’s will to resist the fate. Personally, however, what I wish to create are buildings that will live on eternally not in substance or form but as memories within people’s hearts.”

We saw clearly how Tadao could reach this aim by using the light in the large scale reproduction of one of its famous churches built outside in the garden: the light effect was a truly ascetic experience for the spectator!

We went ahead into the session called ‘void spaces’, this area was representative of what we can call “the philosophical phase” of the artist. In fact, the “vacuum” is an ancient Buddhist concept of emptiness, in Japanese called “mu”. After this brief philosophical excursus – sorry about that we are flying high – we better give you some concrete examples of what we wanted to say: Tadao Ando represented the Japanese philosophical aspect of “filling the void with nothing” through his complexes projects accomplished after the year 2000, such as Omotesando hills, the Tokyu-Toyoko line Shibuya station, and the Shanghai poly grand theater. Did you get it now?

The following session was ‘reading the site’, a title which defined his capacity of adapting every architectural project to the environment trying to change the little as possible in the nature.

The exhibition culminated with the session called ‘building upon what exists, creating that which does not exist’, which consisted in Tadao Ando’s project of revitalizing historic buildings such as “La Punta della Dogana” in Venice (Italian are really proud of!). In the end we watched some videos in a room entitled ‘nurturing’, where, once again, the artist expressed his care toward sustainable environment.

We leave you after this “trip into architecture” with the following quote about the artist’s dream for a better (ecological) world:

“There is only so much that we can do to solve the problem of the environment as creators of buildings. In the end, it all comes down to the awareness and sensitivity of each and every person living with it. Image is everyone saw their everyday surroundings as their own problem and took action in whatever small way they could. There could be no endeavor more creative or richer with possibilities than this. I believe that such visions that urge people to think freely beyond preconception and existing frameworks will be crucial for our future”

 Article: Sara Waka & Elisa Da Rin X L’Officiel Italia

Photo: Nobuyoshi Araki, Mitsuo Matsuoka, Yoshio Shiratori