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Review - Lecture - Tadao Ando: Creating Dreams

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Christine Murray hears Ando discuss trees and art

Tadao Ando: Creating Dreams, RA, London W1J, 26 October www.royalacademy.org.uk

Tadao Ando made much of his beginnings as a professional boxer, his lack of formal architecture training and his new incarnation as an environmental activist at his Creating Dreams lecture at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, last Friday (26 October). Much of the speech focused on Ando’s effort (backed by friends Bono, Jacques Chirac and Jodie Foster) to regenerate landfill and industrial sites by planting trees. At the close of his lecture, Ando said he wanted to pass the hat for his cause, but the RA ‘didn’t like the idea’.

In the following excerpt, as translated consecutively by interpreter Yuko Yasutake, Ando describes how Japanese artists of the 1960s inspire his work.

‘From my late teens, I started a close relationship with the artists of the Gutai Group. Their members are real outsiders. For instance, Shiraga is known for using his feet to paint, and at the age of 85, he is still hanging himself from the ceiling for his work.

‘Mastake lives in France and since 1965 he has been using this single canvas. From nine in the morning until six in the evening, he simply paints it black. He puts all his philosophy and spirit into the black paint.

‘Actually, these people really make me think whether we’re doing our utmost, just as these artists are doing, or not. I saw Jackson Pollock at work in 1957. He was painting outside the canvas, and he really taught me that we have to work outside the box, or beyond the boundary. I had no academic background, I had no social connections; that meant that I had to create my own work; to search and go after work myself.’

Ando also discussed a number of his current projects, including a small gallery in Aix-en-Provence, France for Irish developer Patrick McKillen, and the expansion of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He is also masterplanning Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Olympics, which includes his ‘Forest on the Sea’ eco-effort to replant an island of garbage in Tokyo Bay with trees, ultimately making it the site of the main Olympic stadium. Ando also revealed that he has been asked by U2 frontman Bono to design a house and a museum in Dublin, but details were vague.

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