Photography

Tadao Ando Exhibition - Beijing Minsheng Art Museum

Some photos from my recent visit to the Tadao Ando Exhibition here in Beijing!

John Salvino
Jan 21, 2022
6 min read
Beijing

I finally visited the Tadao Ando Exhibition at the Beijing Minsheng Art Museum (北京民生现代美术馆).

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I live so close to this museum, but this was my first visit. Some people had recommended I check the exhibit out, and with only a few more days until it would close, I finally took the time.

I admit I didn’t know much about him before, except that he has won awards for many of his works, and his architecture can be found worldwide. Some of his themes are light and geometry, which are both things that interest me in terms of photography. I knew that the exhibit would include replicas of some of his most famous works.

Let’s have a look!

When you visit a museum or a gallery, especially for the first time, it’s good to go slowly. Look around a bit, explore. Don’t just head right for the main exhibit.

In this case, one of the main attractions was right near the entrance, Meditation Space. Of course I needed to get a photo of it, but a gentleman with a large SLR camera was in the middle already, taking pictures. I just walked around and explored a bit.

Eventually, I noticed he was no longer standing there, so I quickly made my way to the spot, as I wanted to get a photo of the ceiling.

Sometimes, when taking a picture of something directly above you, it can be challenging to hold your camera steady or line up the shot perfectly.

What I do when I’m using my phone camera is switch to the front-facing camera and place my phone on the ground. I then set up a timer delay, line up the shot as best I can, press the shutter button, and quickly walk out of the frame. And hope that no one else walks into the frame!

So that’s what I did for the photo below, though it took a few times to get everything as centred as possible. The man seemed pretty intrigued about what I was doing and ended up standing over me as I was positioning my camera.

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After a few more shots, I walked out, and when I looked back I noticed he had taken out his phone and placed it on the ground to take some photos the same way. I guess I inspired him 😂

Next, I went to one of the other main attractions, Church on the Water. The most common photo I see people take is from this perspective, taken directly in front.

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As I always say, if you want to take more interesting and unique photos, don’t just take the standard photo that everyone else takes. Move around, look for some other angles, incorporate different things into your image.

It was pretty busy in this room, with many people taking photos, I was a bit limited with what I could do, so I just ended up trying from two angles.

First, I was looking for some leading lines, so I tried to include some of the pews in the room, but I felt I couldn’t find an angle I was happy with. Though I do like the sense of solitude in this photo.

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Then I moved over to the side, avoiding the people taking photos directly in front. I positioned the cross near the lower part of the frame, to include some of the ceiling elements. This gives the picture more of a sense of scale, and interest, as we have more to explore.

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I then moved on to check out some of the other areas.

As I just alluded to, one thing I like to do in my photos is to include other parts of the room or the environment.

For example, in the first photo below, I purposely included the ceiling, the cross lighting, and a couple of columns. Instead of only taking straight-on photos of the items on display, try to show them more uniquely or unexpectedly.

Moving to the next area, I noticed the large-scale model of the newly restored Bourse de Commerce in Paris. I read that the redesign and restoration were completed in 2021.

Yes, first I took a ‘standard’ photo of it.

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But then I noticed behind it they were showing a movie with a walkthrough of the actual location. I thought it might be interesting to show the video in the background. I waited for a part in the video where they showed the main section of the structure so you could kind of see the model reflected in the video.

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One popular thing about this museum is the coloured glass, I notice many people post photos of the different colours on the floor.

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I wanted to try to show the colours differently, so as I walked around, I paid attention to see where else I could photograph them.

At one point I noticed that they appeared on the top of the outside of the Church of the Light exhibit. I like that on the top you can see two dark shadows forming another cross, similar to the main cross and shadow in the foreground of the photo.

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Speaking of the Church of the Light, here is a photo from inside, again I stood to the side, trying to get a different angle.

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Another thing I like to do is show people enjoying or interacting with art when I’m in a museum. For example, here I noticed someone posing for a photo and really liked where she was positioned, with the light and shadows.

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A few more random shots from the exhibit…

I liked the mix of natural and human-made materials that are used in his architecture. There were quite a few models of some of his buildings from around the world, it would be nice to visit some of his works in real life to take photos of them.

I’m glad I finally got around to visiting the Minsheng Art Museum, I’ll definitely pay closer attention to future exhibitions they show.

If you would like to learn more about Tadao Ando and see more of his work, check out this article from Artland Magazine. Or to hear from the curator of the Minsheng Art Museum exhibition specifically, you can read this article.

Next on my museum exhibition list is the Van Gogh Alive exhibit at the Dewey Center here in Beijing. I’m hoping to make it there in the next couple of weeks, I look forward to sharing some photos and thoughts about it with you soon!

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