A Look At Kanazawa's 21st Century Museum Of Contemporary Art | CoolJapan

Looking at it from the exterior garden, you just know that the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, near the Kenrokuen gardens in Kanazawa, is a modern art museum.

The building, with its clean lines and perfectly circular exterior, resembles an alien spaceship, or perhaps, a silicon wafer. There's a touch of technology to its design, a quality of abstraction, and abstraction, of course, is a quality that belongs firmly in the reality of modern art.

What to see at the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

It is fitting then, that the first two structures in the garden outside the museum, have that same quality of the abstract. The first is a metallic mesh structure of stainless steel titled Wrapping, designed for children to play in. Children climb in and take to it effortlessly without a second thought, as they usually do for a great number of things.

The second is a coloured partition made up of Cyan, Magenta and Blue and titled Colour activity house. What exactly the "activity" is, implied by its title, remains unclear, and people move between each partition and then walk away looking vaguely befuddled.

The Swimming Pool, (kanazawa.jp)

Entering the interior, you'll find that the museum isn't just full of abstract art. In the courtyard, visitors crowd around Leandro Elrich's work, aptly titled The Swimming Pool. There's a good reason why it receives the attention it does- a thin film of water over glass creates an illusion of being underwater- elsewhere there is an entrance where you can stand underneath and pretend to be submerged in the deep end of the pool.

L'Origine du monde (kanazawa21.jp)

The museum, with its long, stark corridors and rooms of different heights and sizes, is one of those places that looks comparatively bigger on the inside, a distortive quality that perhaps can be attributed, to Anish Kapoor's reality-warping exhibit, L'Origine du monde — a monolithic black hole suspended above a sloping wall.

In other rooms, you'll find Oscar Oiwa's large-format paintings that depict contemporary landscapes in bright, bold colours.

There's dedicated space as well for posters and graphic design. In a glass casing, you'll find Hebert Bayer's World Geographic Atlas, its pages laid open to display its neat, infographic look at the world.

There is also a historical look at Awazu Kiyoshi's political art, with its loud, pictorial designs.

The Kenrouken gardens nearby, with its flower viewing bridge and traditional stone lanterns, presents something of the world of the past. For something ever-present and modern, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art serves us a vision of what persists, and of what (for art) will transpire.

Kanazawa is accessible from Tokyo within two and a half hours by the Hokuriku Shinkansen that operates out of Tokyo Station. JR Passes are available hereAll Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) operate several daily flights and transfers (one hour) between Tokyo and Komatsu Airport where you can get a shuttle bus (40 mins.) or a train (30 mins.) to Kanazawa Station.

(Cover photo from: Kimo Toyama)

Andrew Yuen writes stories on a variety of topics such as theatre, travel and mental health. He has an interest in examining culture, art and society. In addition, he writes short stories and enjoys reading in his free time.
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