LEVEL 1, GALLERY 11
KENGO KUMA & ASSOCIATES
JAPAN, ESTABLISHED 1990
BASED IN TOKYO AND PARIS
AUSTRALIA, BORN 1970
LIVES AND WORKS IN MELBOURNE
World-renowned architect Kengo Kuma collaborates with local artist Geoff Nees to respond to the philosophical nature of Korean artist Lee Ufan’s painting Dialogue 2017. Through the creation of a new architectural installation, a gallery-scale circular pavilion acts as a sensorial walkway through which to approach and contemplate Ufan’s painting. Made in the Japanese tradition of wooden architecture, where pieces interlock, held by tension and gravity, the Botanical pavilion 2020 features a sublime tessellated interior lined with timber collected from trees felled or removed over several years at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Some of the trees used within the architecture pre-date European settlement, whilst others signal the development over decades of the Gardens marking their role as a site of scientific research and botanical classification. Prioritising natural phenomena over scientific order, the botanical species used are colour coded, rather than following any taxonomic order. This approach offers a statement by the designers against the reductive nature of science during the colonial era – a mindset at odds with many Indigenous cultural beliefs and knowledge systems. Botanical pavilion offers a site for contemplation, reminding us of our relationships to nature and one another.
Kengo Kuma is one of the most significant Japanese figures in contemporary architecture today. His practice, Kengo Kuma Associates, has built a global reputation for their ongoing reinterpretation of traditional Japanese architectural traditions. Drawing on both historical precedents in architecture and craft, Kuma’s projects often integrate traditional elements reinvigorated for the 21st century. This design approach elevates the role and meaning of natural light and materials in contemporary architecture and the ways in which context, in particular natural phenomena, can inform the creation and experience of architecture. His collaborator Geoffrey Nees is an artist that has collaborated with many leading Australian and international architects and designers to deliver large-scale facade designs for architectural projects, including the façade for the Australia Pavilion at the Japan World Expo 2005.
The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Major Supporters Connie Kimberley & Craig Kimberley OAM for their support.