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'Takehiko Inoue interprets Gaudi's Universe' / 5 September 2014

The versatile interior space of the Mori Museum Arts Centre Galleries on the 53rd floor of the 54 story Mori Tower in Roppongi, was designed by the architect Richard Gluckman. On my first visit I found the title 'museum' confusing, as it does not exhibit a permanent collection but rather temporary exhibitions of works by contemporary artists. I have come to look forward to the exhibitions I catch here, and make peace with ones I will miss.

The current exhibition 'Takehiko Inoue interprets Gaudi's Universe' surprised me as the finale of a year-long celebration of 400 years of 'Japan in Spain, Spain in Japan'
And I wonder if Gaudi had any Japanese influences...

The exhibition opened with a short introductory film that, cutting from one brief image to the next, left my dizzy; it was a relief to pause while the camera traveled up in the lift.
From the moment I first saw pictures of Casa Batllo I was enthralled with Gaudi's work and a subsequent visit to Gaudi's Barcelona did not disappoint. How strange to be rising in the Casa Batllo lift here in a Tokyo art gallery.

Gluckman`s interior was remodeled, curvaceous and reminiscent of Gaudi's architecture. Several of the rooms had octagonal floor tiles, one in a kind of heavy-duty chipboard, another in a reproduction of embossed tiles Gaudi had made for one of his projects. One of the elliptical archways installed for this exhibition cut light into a triangle whose points exactly lined up with the walls. Light projected wriggling mosaic fish and tiles onto green octagonal-tiled floor. I felt Gaudi would have approved.
And maybe he would have been intrigued by the black spaces and the controlled artificial lighting.

Takehiko Inoue, a manga artist famous for the cartoon Slam Dunk, had spent time living and working around the works of Gaudi to create this exhibition. I wish I knew more, but as on previous occasions here and in every other gallery I've visited, information about Japanese artists is only given in Japanese. All of the information and descriptions of Gaudi and his artwork appear in both Japanese and English. Even online this info is only in Japanese and 'the page is too large to translate.'
Seeing Gaudi through Takehiko Inoue's eyes was both familiar and strange. My memories of Barcelona were renewed and refreshed through the drawings of this manga artist whose work referenced western art, cartoons and naive as well as traditional Japanese and manga.

Gaudi through the eyes of Takehiko
surprises me. Mori gallery converts
corners to curves, square openings to
elliptical arches; mosaic fish
swim on octagonal tiles of ocean
green floor; Casa Batllo emerges
before my eyes. Replication chairs to
try out, handles to grasp, hooks to curl
fingers around; a captured triangle
of light that would surely delight Antoni,
but what would he make of his imagined
life, the day he could not walk, disabled
and travelled without the use of his legs,
on the back of his mother; what would he
think of this one-sided close encounter?
How would he feel about this monochrome
close-up attention to details, maybe
costing the scale of his life's work and the
glorious, colourful, bigger picture.
How would he react to this tower
enclosing his dreams, closer to heaven
yet denying its own capacity
to make magic with light and the view?