Serpentine Pavilion 2019
The Serpentine Pavilion, designed this year by Japanese architect Junya Ishigami, opens to the public in London's Kensington Gardens
At the press opening, the pavilion’s designer, Japanese architect Junya Ishigami, compared the structure to the wings of a bird, outstretched and protective, or perhaps readying for flight, the shards of slate like shaggy grey feathers. But this material also has much more earthy connotations, reminiscent of rugged coasts and Welsh hillsides. It was, in fact, Ishigami’s aim to ‘create the landscape inside the building,’ to make something that looked like it had 'grown out of the lawn'.
Ishigami, who won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010, has form when it comes to making the solid appear ephemeral and rooting his designs in nature. In 2014 his architecture firm Junya Ishigami + Associates won a commission together with Svenborg Architects to create a huge, floating cloud-like structure for Copenhagen’s harbour. Other projects include a water garden and a cave-like restaurant designed to look as though it has been carved from rock.
Nature is Ishigami’s starting point and his use of organic forms and materials reflect a sense of the found, of the discovered. But while elegant and pleasing to look at, the reality of his Serpentine commission is a little too neat. It is nature tamed, a National Trust property of pavilion – pleasant, pretty but a little conservative.
Serpentine Pavilion 2019 Designed by Junya Ishigami, Serpentine Gallery, London (21 June – 6 October 2019), © Junya Ishigami + Associates, Photography © 2019 Iwan Baan
Controversy at the Serpentine Galleries
Yana Peel has resigned as CEO of the Serpentine Galleries amid 'misguided personal attacks on me and my family' after the Guardian newspaper reported that Peel co-owns an Israeli cyber weapons company, whose software has allegedly been used by 'authoritarian regimes to spy on dissidents.'
In a statement Peel said: 'In light of a concerted lobbying campaign against my husband’s recent investment, I have taken the decision to step down as CEO of the Serpentine Galleries. I am saddened to find myself in this position. I have dedicated the majority of my professional life to public service in the cultural sector. I am proud of all that has been achieved for art and artists in my roles as co-founder of Outset, chair of Para Site Art Space and supporter of many arts institutions in London.
'The work of the Serpentine – and its incomparable artistic director – cannot be allowed to be undermined by misguided personal attacks on me and my family. These attacks are based upon inaccurate media reports now subject to legal complaints. I have decided I am better able to continue my work in supporting the arts, the advancement of human rights and freedom of expression by moving away from my current role.'
The Serpentine Pavilion is open from 21 June – 6 October 2019