To open the doors to creativity and generosity, in the everyday life of young people and kids, can be truly educational. Of course good teachers, good stimuli and favorable conditions are required.
Put together an architect like Tadao Ando, from Japan, winner of the Pritzker Prize in 1995, who has made the essential quality of exposed concrete his signature; Bosco Sodi, a Mexican artist who makes large works using glue, natural fibers, wood pulp, mixed in informal geometries that harness the raw impact of the materials and the cities in which they are made. And then Patricia Martín, the well-known Mexican curator.
The result is a ‘cathedral’ of works and ideas that expresses a coherent vision of the sacred: Casa Wabi Foundation at Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca state, about 500 km southwest of Mexico City. Not a traditional museum or a gallery, but an art foundation, a place that offers a spatial and sensory experience, so that artists of all kinds (painters, sculptors, designers) can experiment on site, finding inspiration in the context.
It was opened last year with a site-specific installation by the French artist Daniel Buren.
“Our mission is to encourage open and constructive dialogue among national and international protagonists, through a variety of interdisciplinary projects that include social and educational programs for and with the community,” Martín explains, as director of the non-profit foundation created with public and private donations. She has orchestrated the project, together with Sodi.
“It is called Wabi because it is inspired by the Japanese ideal of wabi-sabi, a concept that expresses the beauty intrinsic to imperfections and transience.” Three main coordinates define the foundations identity and character.
On the one hand there is Puerto Escondido, the well-known seaside resort, between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre del Sur, which at Casa Wabi is simply a condition of nature: sun, rain, wind, fruit trees, silence.
On the other, there is the Zen landscape constructed by humans for humans, a place to observe the horizon, across the mirror of water of the swimming pool: 5000 m2 that develop the composition of six large private rooms for the artists in residence (from one to three months), eight studios, a gallery space of 460 m2, other multipurpose spaces, and 25 hectares of botanical gardens destined to become, over time, the home of a collection of outdoor contemporary art.
At the center, the potential of infinite creativity, between nature and artifice: the possibilities of life of an art that is born day by day, shaping matter and materials with sensitivity, in pursuit of an aesthetic sense that does not exclude its own perishability.
In this context even the 2500 tons of concrete used by the ‘gardener’ Ando, to configure shells and inner skins of Brutalist memory in the complex, the walls, the thresholds, the physical gravity that are elements of his way of making architecture, dissolve and transcend conceptual more than physical barriers, suggesting a different linguistic syntax.
In the continuity of lines, paths and spaces, in fact, the clear Cartesian order of the layout and the expressive plasticity of the structures, composed of the usual formwork panels, meet a sensorial counterpoint: the tousled dry palm leaves that form the thatched roofs of the various buildings.
A tribute by the master architect to the memory of the palapa, the iconic pavilion with open sides of the local construction tradition, and to an idea of living that brings with it the sense of protection, refuge, of the maternal womb, as symbolic-metaphorical values.
In the interiors the light, generating the space, the rustic simplicity, the freshness and never boastful elegance of wooden doors, objects and furnishings, all rigorously made by artisans, again echo the suggestions of this genius loci.
But in the end, every inanimate presence is but an extra amidst the characters of the play invited to inhabit Casa Wabi, together with the art. Under the same sombrero, in fact, the leading roles are assigned to the inhabitants. Because in the solitude of life in nature, they can listen to the place and perceive that austere, serene beauty that accompanies the passage of time and interprets it in a creative way.
Photos by Edmund Sumner/Photofoyer – Text by Antonella Boisi