Nestled within the warm embrace of the Oaxacan coast in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, a minimalist architectural marvel rises to challenge the traditional art gallery model. Meridiano, an avant-garde art space founded in February 2023 by seasoned art world figures Nicholas Olney and Boris Vervoordt, introduces a potent fusion of architectural elegance, sustainability, and conceptual artistry that extends beyond the familiar limitations of time and space.
Meridiano Technical Information
- Architects: Tatsuro Miki & Axel Vervoordt
- Location: Puerto Escondido, Mexico
- Founders: Nicholas Olney & Boris Vervoordt
- Topics: Art Gallery
- Completion Year: 2023
- Photographs: © ArchEyes
This is a part of the world where the elements are very strong. The sun and light are very strong, the ocean just behind us is very powerful, we’re very present with the mountains as well as a feeling of being on the edge of the earth.
And at the edges in terms of ecology very interesting things happen: the edge of water to land, the edge of meadow to forest, this is where interactions occur and where things are incredibly fertile including thoughts and ideas for artists so this is a place for artists to come to be inspired and to make something that reacts very strongly to this site.
– Nick Olney, founder of Meridiano
A Bold Expression of Dialogue, Exchange, and Artistry in Mexico
Olney, currently serving as the President of Kasmin Gallery, utilizes his experience of managing over 40 artists and estates across three locations in Chelsea, New York, to steer Meridiano’s artistic endeavors. His partner in this visionary project, Vervoordt, is a celebrated art dealer and gallerist who currently directs the renowned Axel Vervoordt Company. The duo’s shared passion for redefining art experiences is beautifully reflected in the operational fabric of Meridiano, overseen by Laura Castillo, a professional seasoned in arts and culture management in Mexico.
Meridiano transcends the traditional gallery model by providing an open framework for long-form, site-specific, and experimental exhibitions. This revolutionary approach allows artists from all around the globe to interact and intersect across disciplines. The founding principle of the gallery — to foster dialogue and exchange in the art world — manifests in a biannual contemporary art programming that began with the work of renowned artist Kimsooja in February 2023.
Designed by acclaimed architect Tatsuro Miki and Axel Vervoordt, the architectural landscape of Meridiano echoes the subtleties of a cloister or atrium. The structure, a trapezoidal prism, is a testament to the principles of sacred geometry. Visitors approach the gallery via a secluded pathway leading to an open square and a covered rectangular room with a unique oculus that opens to the sun and stars, offering a meditative sanctuary.
This artful breach in the enclosure allows a slice of the changing sky to converse with the displayed works. Simultaneously, the open aperture harnesses the incoming breeze, adding a sensorial layer to the cool interiors juxtaposed against the external sun. The minimalist architectural design invites visitors to contemplate not only the artwork but also the shifting environmental conditions and the ebb and flow of time.
The gallery’s inaugural exhibition, titled “Jaoseon”, unveiled the conceptually dense artwork of Kimsooja, a multimedia artist celebrated for her practice combining performance, film, photo, and site-specific installation using textile, light, and sound. The term “Jaoseon”, translating to “meridian” in Korean, establishes a symbolic connection with the gallery’s architectural and philosophical foundation.
Kimsooja’s “Jaoseon” was a mesmerizing performance that engaged the gallery’s spatiality and the movement of light. The artist’s body, positioned at the precise intersection of the ground and sunlight, created an ever-evolving geometry of light and shadow, offering a temporal and spatial expansion of the gallery. Additionally, her artwork “Deductive Object – Bottari, 2023”, a stone discovered in Puerto Escondido and placed in the center of Meridiano’s square room, symbolically replaced the artist’s body during the exhibition’s duration.
A visit to Meridiano goes beyond viewing an art exhibition; it’s an immersive encounter with the vivid local ecosystem, a testament to the gallery’s commitment to sustainability. Working with local organizations and community members, Meridiano’s construction prioritized local biodiversity, using stone and natural lime plaster to resonate with the surrounding landscape. The stones used for the facade were sourced from nearby quarries and hand-laid, while the 10-foot entrance door was fashioned from Paduke, a native tropical wood.
Meridiano Image Gallery
About Axel Vervoordt
Axel Vervoordt, born in 1947, is a distinguished Belgian art dealer, curator, and interior designer, celebrated for his distinctive blend of art, antiquities, and design elements from various eras and cultures. Starting as an art collector in his early 20s, he quickly transitioned to the antique trade, establishing an international reputation through his antique store in Antwerp, Belgium, which he opened in the late 1960s. Known for his minimalist and serene approach to design, Vervoordt is an adherent of the Japanese “Wabi-Sabi” philosophy, which appreciates beauty in imperfection and transience. His contributions to the art world also include curating numerous international art exhibitions.