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What am I reading: Paul Mathieu

STIR looks into the reading habits of leading creatives - Paul Mathieu is currently engrossed in ‘Tadao Ando: Château La Coste’ by Philip Jodidio.

by STIRworld Jun 26, 2019

What is the name of the book?

Paul Mathieu (PM): Tadao Ando: Château La Coste

Who is the author?

PM: Philip Jodidio

What is the genre?

PM: Non-fiction, art and architecture. The Château La Coste in Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, near Aix-en-Provence, is a working vineyard, and since 2004, a destination for a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art and architecture. ‘Tadao Ando: Château La Coste’ explores the five works by the Japanese architect (born 1941) featured at the Château: Gate, Art Centre, Four Cubes to Contemplate Our Environment, Chapel and Origami Benches (all completed in 2011). Beautifully illustrated with sketches, models and production photography, this volume also includes an essay by architecture historian Philip Jodidio analysing how Ando’s architecture inscribes itself into the landscape.

Why this book? Could you highlight any notable aspects of it?

PM: This past spring (March 16-May22), ‘Paul Mathieu: Still Motion’ was exhibited in the Renzo Piano space at Chateau la Coste. The next stop is Ralph Pucci Los Angeles, where it will open on October 28. While there, I was particularly interested in Tadao Ando’s rejuvenation of a dilapidated chapel located at the peak of the property overlooking the art centre, which was created simultaneously with a number of other Ando structures in 2011. Having been commissioned in the creation of liturgical furnishings for the 17th century Madeleine church in Aix-en-Provence, I was curious to understand Mr. Ando’s own inspiration and journey to find the symbolism of the chapel and the spiritual tradition it represents. This fascination is amplified by our parallel (complimentary?) approaches: Ando’s being architectural and preserving the spirituality of an existing ruin by ‘framing’ (encasing) the original building from the outside in a glass volume, and my own in creating a collection of previously non-existent pieces in wood, bronze, glass and rock crystal created to embody and breathe life into the rites and rituals performed within the heart of a church.

The cover of the book Image Credit: Courtesy of Paul Mathieu Studio Private limited
Did you get any significant insights? Did you gain knowledge or did it help unwind?

PM: Through this book I rediscovered Chateau La Coste, a place I’ve travelled to many times and where my work has been exhibited. To experience it, and the revival of a sacred space from another perspective, is a great pleasure.

What is your favourite quote from the book? Why?

PM: In architecture, there is a part that is the result of logical reasoning and a part that is created through the senses. There is always a point where they clash. I don’t think architecture can be created without that collision. Yet, practically, every work of architecture nowadays is created from just one or the other. You don’t sense a will behind the architecture. If architecture were just a matter of logic, the knowledge and ability to solve the programme should suffice, but the result is likely to be insipid and without feeling. On the other hand, it’s not possible with just a sensibility to meet the various demands made by reality, for example, in areas such as function, safety, and sanitation. There are plenty of contradictions at first, and overcoming conflicts is difficult. You need a strong will to do it. In the absence of a will, architecture can’t serve as a form of expression.

Paul Mathieu with the bookImage Credit: katrinepfunderud
What is your take on the book? Yeah or Blah?

PM: I love this book because it helps me to understand and discover the architecture, designs, and personality of Mr. Ando through his works, thereby amplifying my own pleasure in sharing my work and continuing the dialogue between human, landscape, architecture, and design.

When do you read?

PM: Anytime. I like to keep books I like and that I am interested in reading around me so I can enjoy them whenever I have a free moment.

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