Where do you find relaxation during the art summer?

The summer lures art fans out of the city too. Where can art be experienced in a special way, in nature or in remote, tranquil places? And where do you go to escape from the tumult of art? ArtMag asked around.

Jens Hoffmann
Director, Jewish Museum, New York
Photo Robert Adler

Jens Hoffmann
One of the most stimulating visits I undertook recently was a trip to the former residence of the legendary Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx (1909-94). Located on an old coffee plantation about 45 minutes south of Rio de Janeiro, Burle Marx’s estate is as close as I can imagine coming to paradise. It is a lush, exuberant garden of Eden with thousands of plants and flowers in a carefully designed landscape and combined with ponds, waterfalls and beautiful historical buildings.

Burle Marx is mostly remembered for the collaborations with the iconic architect Oscar Niemeyer and together they worked on the masterplan for Brasilia among many other creative partnerships. Yet, what most people do not know about Burle Marx is that he was also an avid painter, enthusiastic collector, jewelry designer and talented singer as well as a masterful cook. The ultimate polymath Burle Marx’s creative output had no boundaries and a lot of his artistic energy can still be felt at the estate, or Sitio Burle Marx as it is called now. Completely off the beaten path and away from the common tourist attractions of Rio one can visit his old house, view his collections of religious art, ceramics, shells and plants, visit his studio, which is still full of sketches, paintings and sculptures or just wonder through the incredible gardens. As soon as one steps into Burle Marx’s world the rest of the world is quickly forgotten.

Susanne Pfeffer
Director, Fridericianum, Kassel
Photo Angela Bergling

Susanne Pfeffer
Karlsaue, which was built as a baroque park around 1700 and transformed into a landscape park in keeping with the ideas of that age. The Karlsaue is the result of different concepts of nature. When I need to get away from it all for a while, I take a short walk over there and stroll the park, in which outdoor works from past documentas can be found. I particularly like the sculpture Idee di Pietra (2010) by Giuseppe Penone. The work reflects the absurd separation of culture and nature and aptly confronts the artificiality of the park and its nature cultivated according to changing ideas.

Toshio Hara
Director, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art,Tokyo
Courtesy Hara Museum

Toshio Hara
Three places come to mind: first, the Teshima Art Museum, which itself is a work undertaken by the artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa. It is an embodiment of the aesthetic, and is well worth a visit. Second, Sunspace for Shibukawa by Ólafur Elíasson at Hara Museum ARC in Shibukawa. This solar observatory is installed in a green field site at the museum. Inside the pavilion, visitors are treated to a display of rainbows produced by the reflected sunlight from a small window. This is a space where the visitor can gain a sense of the sky. And third, the Honolulu Museum of Art, Spalding House. This museum stands secluded on the mountain. It is a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city and a place where I can let myself go. The huge, original Hawaiian trees produce shade in the garden, which is dotted with permanent sculptures by George Rickey that shudder in the breeze.

Hanna Wroblewska
Director, Galeria Zacheta, Warsaw
Photo M. Szacho/fototaxi.pl

Hanna Wroblewska
There are different ways to get some respite over the summer. One of them is to stay in Warsaw. Paradoxically, the center of the city is empty then. Warsaw inhabitants leave the city in the summer or gather around the Vistula River, which during this period becomes the center of the world. Tourists, on the other hand, just follow two or three well-worn paths around the parks of royal residences, such as Łazienki and Wilanów. A second method is to stay in Poland but not in the capital. There are many places you can head to and be sure of great artistic and tourist experiences. I opt for Tarnów—a medium-sized city, but one with wonderful parks, the first cinema in Poland, and the striking modernist industrial district of Mościce (known, for example, from Sasnal’s paintings). The small BWA Gallery (whose director Ewa Łączyńska-Widz was the curator of the Views competition two years ago) always has wonderful, thought-provoking exhibitions, which can rekindle a passion for art in you. The kind of passion it is easy to forget amid the hustle and bustle of main art thoroughfares with the galleries, art fairs, and biennials. And Tarnów has the additional advantage of being within striking distance of the mountains!

Thaddaeus Ropac
Gallery Owner, Paris & Salzburg
Photo Peter Rigaud,
c/o Shotview Photographer's Management

Thaddaeus Ropac
I like to recuperate in my house on the Greek island of Hydra, where there has been an interesting, discreet art colony since the 1960s. Exchanging ideas with artists and writers that live there gives me inspiration for new exhibitions and projects.

Nicolas Iljine
Advisor to the General Director of the
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Painting Diana Vouba

Nicolas Iljine
When I flee the big cities like New York, Moscow, London or Paris I like travelling to Brittany where we have a house in the village of Pont l’Abbé near Quimper. Whether it is the nearby ocean tides, the fishermen bringing their catch in around 4 PM every day, going to the local market or enjoying crèpes with cider, the region has an astonishing vitality, beautiful landscapes and fields, no pollution and strong cultural traditions. The 13th. Century cathedral in Quimper radiates serenity & calm and often hosts evening concerts of classical music. The nearby Fine Arts Museum has often surprisingly good exhibitions.

An hour or so away, in Pont-Aven where many artists stayed and worked. The two most innovative painters to arrive on the scene were Paul Gauguin and Émile Bernard. Gauguin had reached in Pont-Aven in July 1886 while Bernard came later in the summer. When the two met again two years later, they consolidated their relationship. Bernard showed Gauguin his Pardon à Pont-Aven (1888) which some believe inspired Gauguin to paint his Vision du Sermon, Bernard claiming he was the first to adopt the approach which became known as Synthetism.

In and around Carnac you can wander around an exceptionally dense collection of megalithic sites consisting of aligned dolmens, tumuli and single menhirs. More than 3,000 prehistoric standing stones were hewn from local rock and erected by the pre/proto-Celtic people of Brittany. The stones were erected at some stage during the Neolithic period, probably around 3300 BC, but some may date to as old as 4500 BC.

Older people speak the original Breton language which is of celtic origin and also spoken in Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man. During the nineteenth century local costumes became increasingly elaborate and colourful. Especially famous was the tall lace bonnet worn by the women, which covered only the top of the skull and extended to a triangle of fabric mounted on a base. These were embroidered with patterns of flowers and reached an over 30 cm hight.

Many old churches are dotted around the region and in front of nearby Tronoën's Notre-Dame chapel there is a beautiful 15th century calvary, albeit worn by the ocean air and winds.

Traditional Breton folk music includes a variety of vocal and instrumental styles. Purely traditional musicians became the heroes of the roots revival in the second half of the 20th century. Each summer there is a multitude of folk music performances and every village has a “Fest-Noz”, an evening of music performances, traditional folk dancing with food & drinks organized by the locals.

Nada Raza
Curator, Tate Modern

Nada Raza
I went back to Sri Lanka recently. My last visit was during the civil war, and so we stayed in the tourist friendly beaches of the south. This time I was able to hire a car and travel to the north of the island.

My trip began in Colombo, the capital. A leafy city with low-rise buildings, Colombo has so far preserved much of its character and also been the catalyst for regional innovation - architecture is extraordinary in Sri Lanka. Those in the know stay in homes or hotels designed by Geoffrey Bawa (1919-2003). Bawa and his contemporaries such as Minette de Silva pioneered tropical modernism. They worked with artists and craftsmen to produce modern living environments that use local materials and respond to the surrounding elements. I visited his Colombo home, Number 11, where guests can also stay, where a sunburst batiq by Ena de Silva leads into a corridor with polished white floors, a metal owl by Laki Senanayake beckoning visitors further into the cool interior. In Colombo, the Barefoot gallery keeps Barbara Sansoni’s innovative work alive for textile lovers, while Paradise Road is a gallery and restaurant with luxury décor. I met with artists at Saskia Fernando, a young and committed gallery dedicated to contemporary art. The artists collective Theerta congregate at the artist run space Red Dot, where I had an engrossing evening learning about a recent performance platform, a workshop and day of public performance in a local bus-station. Annoushka Hempel’s gallery is in her home, where she welcomed me before we headed to a charity art auction at the Lionel Wendt center, a cultural space bequeathed by the experimental photographer at the center of the cultural scene in colonial Ceylon of the 1930’s. The Sapumal Foundation nearby houses a collection of works by the 43 Group, led by Wendt and his contemporaries, modernist painters such as Pieris, Keyt, Daraniyagala and others.

Then to the south, to Mirissa, for a studio visit with Saskia Pinkleton in her studio and home, another architectural marvel. Her family live here part of the year and are lucky enough to have homes designed by Tadao Ando and Shigeru Ban. It is hard to leave and continue on but award-winning Kadju House in Seenimodera is the home I have always dreamt of. For my environmentalist friend Vikrom Mathur, the architect Pradeep Kodikara has designed a jewel in polished concrete and two nights here are restful preparation for my adventures ahead. Sri Lankan food has plenty of spice and flavour, best washed down with thambeli, fresh King Coconut water. It was hard to leave to head on to Galle, ancient port city and now a tourist mecca, taking some time to dip into the history of this part of the Indian ocean in the Maritime Museum. I also stopped at the lighthouse at Dondra Head, the southernmost tip of the island, where Zheng He is said to have moored. From here, there is no land mass until Antarctica.

Finally, I headed due north, stopping for a night at a Bawa designed hotel – Kandalama. Built among rocks by a lake, the hotel is covered in vines that serve as a natural elevator system for families of monkeys, their antics visible through plate glass windows that guests are warned to leave closed. It is perfectly located for visits to Dambulla, a painted rock temple and Sigiriya, an incredible ancient palace complex perched on a rock. The symmetrical water gardens are reminiscent of Indus valley and Persianate designs and claim to be one of the earliest examples of a regal pleasure garden. Quite near here, I stopped for a cup of tea with Laki Senanyake, who lives in a house without any walls. His favourite spot overlooks a cistern which has become part of his living room, and we listened to music from speakers hidden in the trees and learnt more about his work with Bawa. I missed the artist Muhanned Cader, who had long tried to describe this magical place to me.

In Jaffna, the Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture and Design hosted a seminar arranged by Natasha Ginwala. Artists and students congregated in its courtyard for the event, and the commitment of founder Sharmini Periera and Jaffna based artist and professor T. Shanaathanan was echoed in the turnout of a young and attentive local audience. The seminar was translated into two languages, from English into both Sinhala and Tamil, making apparent the enthno-linguisitic barriers that must now be addressed post-conflict. I visited the reconstructed library, buzzing with visitors, and the rubble of the destroyed fort with photographer Menike Van Der Poorten and writer Jyoti Dhar, here to research artists for Colomboscope, an arts festival. While the sun set over the sea, a lunar eclipse turned the rising moon a dull red behind us, a moment no camera was able to capture. The mood – beautiful yet eerie – seemed appropriate and we stood in silence for a few moments. Other than lavish ice-cream parlours – ‘Rio’ is a landmark and we stop by for a technicolour sundae - there seem to be few places to gather so the Archive and its thoughtful programming of talks and growing library might build new discursive space. I met artists and teachers Jagath Weerasinghe and Thenuwara Chandraguptha and we had so much to talk about but too soon it was time to head back, an eight-hour drive to the airport after many promises to be back soon. Perhaps very soon, for Colomboscope this August!