HAPPENINGText: Alma Reyes

Tokyo’s urban architecture never ceases to flourish. The newly constructed lower floor of Azabudai Hills in Kamiyacho, designed by internationally acclaimed Thomas Heatherwick and Mori Building Co., Ltd., opened last November 24, and stands as the latest progressive addition to Tokyo’s evolving city planning.

The colossal multi-complex spans 24,000 square meters of lush greenery, and structured in a pergola with an undulating roof, like a gently sloping hill. Echoing the themes “Modern Urban Village” and “Green and Wellness,” it encourages a community of human connection linked to the surrounding nature.

Azabudai Hills Gallery is located in Garden Plaza A, and includes the Azabudai Hills Gallery Cafe and Gallery Space in the basement. For its opening exhibition, Olafur Eliasson: A harmonious cycle of interconnected nows is being presented until March 31st, 2024.

The Icelandic-Danish artist is internationally esteemed for his avant-garde installations, paintings, sculptures, photography, and architectural projects that bridge art and science, civic space, education, policy-making, and the climate crisis together as one ideology. In 1995, Eliasson moved to Berlin and established Studio Olafur Eliasson (SOE), which embodies researchers, art historians, technicians, and all other professions in the fields of art, science and technology. His introspective approach in understanding the influences of the environment and physical matter in our modern industrial society has earned him the title of Goodwill Ambassador in 2019 by the United Nations Development Programme for renewable energy and climate action.

What an appropriate inaugural exhibition for Azabudai Hills to bring together the harmony of nature, materials, people and cultural enhancement that the new commercial complex stands for. The exhibition features new public artworks being displayed for the first time in Japan. They inspire natural phenomena by infusing perceptual experiences accompanied by color, light and movement.

Olafur Eliasson, Firefly biosphere (falling magma star), 2023, Courtesy: neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles, Photo: Jens Ziehe

The opening room presents Firefly biosphere (falling magma star) (2023), a color-filtered red glass ball in silver, stainless steel and LED lights suspended from the ceiling. The polyhedron, which took Eliasson decades of research to achieve, consists of three concentric polyhedrons nestled inside the other. The rotating movement reveals an intriguing sphere of geometric shapes and shadows reflected on the walls.

Olafur Eliasson, The endless study, 2005, Private collection, Photo: Alma Reyes

Upon entering the main spacious gallery, we are confronted by a tall, standing installation of wood, rubber, metal, mirror, paper and stamp. The endless study (2005) is a creative version of a 19th century harmonograph that investigates the correlation between space and sound. There are two lateral pendulums whose ends connect by a hinged arm when set in motion. A third pendulum, mounted in gimbals, moves in rotation. A pen is affixed at the connection point, and records the rhythm of the circular movements onto this horizontal plane.

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