Hiroshi Sugimoto born in Tokyo, he moved to the United States at the age of 22 and has been living in New York since the age of 26, frequently traveling around the world.
The experiences of his youth had a profound impact on his life.
If not traveling, he is on his way to a journey. To live like Hiroshi Sugimoto, constantly flying night and day, must be a unique feeling. Sitting in the rest area of ‘Time’s Corridor,’ enjoying wagashi with red bean filling and Kyoto matcha tea, we gaze out the window at the blue sky of the Setoichi Sea.
In the lounge area of ‘Time’s Corridor,’ there is a table known as ‘Sanshinboku,’ which reveals the trajectory of time. It retains the original form of three sacred trees: Yakusugi, Jindai Sugi, and Nanakamado. Within these towering trees lies a segment of time, from its beginning to end. As the sun rises and sets, the transparent glass surface of the table reflects the surrounding artworks and architecture, symbolizing the accumulation of time.
Walking through Kagawa in the early morning, waiting for a speedboat at Takamatsu Chikko, watching the waves and foam stretch out, greeting everyone at Miyanoura Port with Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Red Pumpkin,’ taking the first and second steps in Tadao Ando’s philosophical architecture—these memories echo between the mountains and seas of Kagawa Prefecture within ‘Time’s Corridor.’ And as we ponder, enjoying the dessert and hot tea that come with the ticket, I believe this too can be considered an accumulation of time!
Glass Tea House Mondrian
From the rest area, the teahouse made of optical glass offers a visually light sensation, resembling a transparent cube floating on water. Light freely traverses through it, blurring the boundaries between inside and outside. In the teahouse, while embracing all views, it also bestows upon those sitting inside a possession of all sceneries, embodying a philosophy akin to that of Hiroshi Sugimoto.
The optical glass pathway on the water surface feels ceremonial, cautiously moving forward to the artistic core, reminiscent of the ‘Enoura Observatory’ in Odawara City.
Sugimoto has reimagined the core of the Japanese room, ‘Tokonoma,’ and the aesthetics of shadow in Japanese culture. In its place, he uses nature’s sustainability and the atmosphere, transforming rolling hills into hanging scrolls and mountains into bonsai. With seasonal changes, the landscapes and seascapes of Kagawa decorate everything. The teahouse emerges as a unique modernist space born from the interplay of traditional thoughts.
That day, we amusingly discovered ‘Mondrian聞鳥庵’ In Kanji, it means a small room where one can hear birds. However, its Japanese pronunciation ‘Mon Dori An’ subtly pays homage to the Western abstract master Piet Cornelies Mondrian, revealing Sugimoto’s sense of humor.
‘Mondrian’ has traveled from the Venetian Palace of Versailles to the Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art and finally to Benesse House on Naoshima (Benesse Art Site Naoshima).
Sugimoto ingeniously integrates modern architectural elements with the traditional spirit of Japanese tea ceremony, showcasing a cross-cultural dialogue and fusion. He not only presents the essence of Japanese culture to the Western world but also proposes potential interactions between modern art and tradition.
The concept originates from Isaac Newton’s famous ‘spectral experiment,’ where light passing through a prism refracts from white light into seven colors. When we first entered the lounge, we felt that the colorful photography series on the wall could be displayed in a better space, and it was unclear why the words ‘Mondrian’ were inscribed next to the artworks. However, as the matcha in our cup ran out, the red, yellow, blue on the wall inadvertently connected in our minds, revealing themselves as Mondrian’s abstract grids! Looking towards the outdoor glass teahouse ‘Mondrian’ it’s impressive; everything is a trick of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s.
‘Prism’ is the physical model of Sugimoto’s ‘Opticks‘ series, placed outside the ‘Time’s Corridor’ lounge area. Composed of optical glass and iron, this transparent triangular prism allows natural light to enter. After numerous refractions, rainbow-colored light appears on its surface and surroundings. The colors change with the viewing angle, creating a dreamlike sensation.
Conceptual Form 003 Onduloid: a surface of revolution with constant non-zero mean curvature
Within the shadows of Tadao Ando’s architecture, it’s hard not to be drawn to this illuminated rectangle. The other side is covered with lichen and soil, with a murky hue. A polished metal sculpture stands upright in the center, its spiral surface extending upwards. At its peak, it vanishes into the space with a whoosh! The scene is so still that I mistook it for one of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s colorful photographic works, exuding a sense of futurism, very avant-garde.
This installation art, located between indoor and outdoor spaces, originates from Sugimoto’s visit to the ‘Mathematical Institute at the University of Tokyo.’ He became intrigued by plaster mathematical models, leading to a series of abstract creations. The purely rational titles of these works seem to reflect Sugimoto’s philosophy – that ‘art’ exists in things not intended to be artistic.
Tracing back through time, Sugimoto Hiroshi’s enduring questions about our origin, birth, and identity followed us as we left Naoshima. They accompanied us on the flight home and lingered as we unpacked, perhaps due to the post-travel decompression. As I sank into the ever-deepening sofa, my thoughts, hazy and drifting, brushed past light and shadow. It seemed to be the voices of those who walked before us, urging us on to spend a lifetime filling in the answers.
The soft glow of the waves quietly reflected Sugimoto’s notion of ‘time,’ concealed in a profoundly touching place. I remember that day on Naoshima in the afternoon, silently watching ‘time’ flow.
Hiroshi Sugimoto Gallery: Time Corridors
11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (last entry: 2:00 p.m.)
Admission：JPY 1,500 *Tea and sweets are included.
Free admission for those under 15 years old and guests of Benesse House.
Please ask at the lounge during the opening hours if you would like to have tea (Price not included in admission fee).
Tickets：Click here for reservations.
No reservation is required for guests of Benesse House.