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Olafur Eliasson Inaugural Exhibition Now On! Exploring Art at Azabudai Hills

Translated from Japanese by
Azabudai Hills, which opened on November 24, 2023, is an cutting-edge compact city that brings together offices, residences, hotels, commercial facilities, an international school, preventive healthcare center, and cultural facilities all on one site. Harmoniously nestled in nature, the site is dotted with public art, and the Azabudai Hills Gallery, serving as a cultural hub, is set to host various exhibitions. In this article we provide an art-focused introduction to Azabudai Hills, where the entire cityscape functions as a museum.

Experience Mori JP Tower, Japan's tallest building!

Azabudai Hills spans Toranomon 5-chome, Azabudai 1-chome, and Roppongi 3-chome in Minato Ward, with a site area of approximately 64,000 square meters, equivalent to 1.4 Tokyo Domes. One corner of the complex is directly connected to Kamiyacho Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, ensuring excellent accessibility.

The landmark of Azabudai Hills is the Mori JP Tower, which stands at a height of approximately 330 meters. Looking up from below, the sheer power of its presence is truly overwhelming.

The Mori JP Tower surpasses Abeno Harukas in Osaka, making it Japan's tallest skyscraper and serving as the centerpiece of Azabudai Hills.

The first four floors above ground house a commercial facility, the fifth and sixth floors are occupied by the Keio University Center for Preventive Medicine, the seventh through 52nd floors are designated for offices, while residential space extends from the 53rd to the 64th floor (the top floor).

Explore the grounds while appreciating the public art

The first floor office lobby showcases Olafur Eliasson's public artworks: A Harmonious Cycle of Interconnected Nows. Eliasson is a Danish artist of Icelandic descent, with the shape of his set of four spiral objects being mathematically derived. The works were created to coincide with the opening of Azabudai Hills.

Both of the above pieces are from A Harmonious Cycle of Interconnected Nows (2023) Exhibition image: Azabudai Hills Mori JP Tower Office Lobby (2023) Photo by Keizo Kioku

Visitors can delight in various pieces of public art that adorn the lush green central square, which spans approximately 6,000 square meters directly beneath Mori JP Tower.

Artificial Rock. No. 109 by Chinese artist Zhan Wang is a metallic sculpture that was exhibited at the 2016 Northern Ibaraki Arts Festival. Covered in stainless steel, its surface reflects the landscape of the central square.

Renowned global artist Yoshitomo Nara's artwork, Tokyo Forest Child, is a monumental piece standing 7.6 meters tall. This is the first time that one of Nara's sculptures has been permanently exhibited in Tokyo. Be sure to enjoy the world of Nara up close and personal.

Sculptor Yutaka Sone, creator of Last Night of the Stone Age, is an artist based in Belgium, China, Mexico, and Japan. His public art piece, resembling a log, invites visitors to sit and engage with it.

Reference photo: Wood Log, Yutaka Sone (2017)

After viewing the public art, we headed to Garden Plaza, home to galleries and a museum. Garden Plaza, which is a commercial complex, proudly stands as a symbol of Azabudai Hills alongside the Mori JP Tower.

On to Garden Plaza's Azabudai Hills Gallery

Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the Garden Plaza is a masterpiece in itself, with the building designed as an art installation. The unique exterior is truly a sight to behold.

Garden Plaza consists of buildings A to D, and the Azabudai Hills Gallery is located in Garden Plaza A.

At the Azabudai Hills Gallery, Olafur Eliasson: A Harmonious Cycle of Interconnected Nows is running for approximately four months, from the opening of Azabudai Hills until March 31, 2024. The exhibition showcases various works by Olafur Eliasson, the artist behind the public art in the Mori JP Tower's office lobby.

Eliasson's collection of works centered around ecology and the natural environment has received international acclaim. In Japan, he received a prize in the Sculpture category of the 2023 Praemium Imperiale, the prestigious international art prize presented by the Japan Art Association in honor of His Imperial Highness Prince Takamatsu.

Encounter artworks that speak to the senses

From installations to paintings, sculptures to photographs, and videos, Olafur Eliasson's artworks span various forms of expression. We stepped inside the gallery to see them for ourselves.

Through works like the orange-hued Firefly Biosphere (Falling Magma Star), composed of three polyhedra, and The Endless Study, which uses a pendulum to create geomatic images, you can grasp the height of Eliasson's inspiration.

Firefly Biosphere (Falling Magma Star) (2023)

*The Endless Study (2005) Photo by Shimei Nakatogawa

Works specifically created for this exhibition, such as The Air We Breathe and pieces like Double Spiral from 2001, exude a strong three-dimensional presence. On the walls of the same space, Sun Drawing and Wind Writings were displayed.

Front center: Double Spiral (2001), back center: The Air We Breathe (2023)

From left: Sun Drawings (April 18, 2023), Wind Writings (April 29, 2023), Wind Writings (April 12, 2023)

One of the highlights of this exhibition is the large-scale water installation titled Your Split Second House. In a dark space with a height of five meters and a length of over 20 meters, water is illuminated momentarily by strobe lights, creating a mesmerizing dance. This piece was reconstructed for this exhibition based on a work presented in 2010. The irregular curves formed by the water are captivating no matter how long you look at them.

Your Split Second House (2010)

Throughout the duration of this exhibition, the Azabudai Hills Gallery Cafe is offering a special menu in collaboration with Studio Olafur Eliasson Kitchen. After viewing the exhibition, a visit to the cafe might be a delightful way to top off the experience.

Visit the Azabudai Hills Gallery to enjoy a myriad of Olafur Eliasson's works, including 15 pieces being exhibited for the first time in Japan. For detailed information on exhibition duration, admission fees, and more, please refer to the details below and the official website. In addition, Azabudai Hills is home to various other galleries, a digital art museum, and more, making it a must-visit destination for art lovers. Why not immerse yourself in a world of art by visiting and experiencing the vibrant spaces throughout Azabudai Hills for yourself!
<Azabudai Hills Gallery>
MBF, Azabudai Garden Hills Garden Plaza, 5-8-1 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Olafur Eliasson: A Harmonious Cycle of Interconnected Nows
Exhibition duration: Friday, November 24, 2023 - Sunday, March 31, 2024
Opening hours: 10:00 - 19:00 (until 17:00 on Tuesdays, until 20:00 on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and the day before public holidays)
Closed: January 1
Admission fee: Adults ¥1,800, University, college, senior high school students ¥1,200, 4 years old to junior high school students ¥900
*Please refer to the official website for further details.

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