Serpentine Gallery – Masterfully aesthetic

Having a week off in London can only mean art, art and more art. So traipse away I did to pay homage to Yoko Ono at the Serpentine Gallery and also have a look at the 2012 Pavilion. And despite the rain and wet shoes, I couldn’t have had a more aesthetically sublime day. This is the 12th year the Gallery has had a summer pavilion and this one is designed by Ai Weiwei together with Herzog & de Meuron. Being the year of the Olympics in London, it is a bit ironic that this very trio designed the stadium for the Chinese Olympics in 2008. And though the Serpentine has a rule that architects invited to work on these pavilions shouldn’t have worked in the UK before, this didn’t quite apply to Herzog & de Meuron (who are also responsible for Tate Modern) as they were collaborating with Weiwei who is currently not allowed to leave China.

So with the help of Skype, this team put together a genius idea of digging five feet into the ground to create a ‘presence out of an absence’. While doing this they uncovered traces of the 11 other pavilions built before this one. And by superimposing these designs one over the other, Weiwei, Herzog & de Meuron came up with this –

They then covered it with a disc of water that reflects the light, trees, clouds, rain, sunshine, hail, snow…whatever the sky decides is on the menu for the day – creating an effect that is so quintessentially Hyde Park and so typically London. I guess if it was any other country, the water wouldn’t have so much to reflect; but I trust they knew when they were designing the disc that here, every day is a different story.

What I like the best about this pavilion is the darkness at the centre. The inside is rustic with stone and cork surfaces, and the ceiling has this greenish tinge that is a reflection of the grass outside. I haven’t seen light so beautiful and grass so green in a long while. Or at least I haven’t been looking for it.  

The Serpentine Gallery also currently has Yoko Ono’s To The Light on view. Describing it would be a whole other post. But I can’t end without mentioning the Wish Tree she has installed outside. I’m a big sucker for making wishes and when Yoko asks me to make a wish, I make a wish.

Wish Tree
for London
Write your wish
on a piece of paper
Tie the paper on the wish tree
Ask a friend to do the same.
Keep wishing
Yoko Ono 2012

And wish they have.

It might be great to not have anything to wish for anymore. That could be a kind of happiness for some.
I’m incredibly happy but I’m never going to stop wishing. Even if it’s for more sunshine and cake.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012
Upto 14 October 2012

Yoko Ono – To The Light
Upto 9 September 2012

Serpentine Gallery

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