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An Artful Voyage Through Patina Maldives

Directions Magazine

Words Janelle ZaraImages Georg RoskeDate 20 October 2021

Built on the largest of the four Fari Islands in the North Mari Atoll, the Patina Maldives is a destination of regeneration and discovery, realized in the size and shape of a small, albeit luxurious, fishing village. Open to guests from the adjacent islands, the hotel will feature a central marketplace packed with amenities including a spa, international restaurants, boutique shopping, and more. Beyond the village, Studio MK27 and an international team of designers, curators, artists, and fabricators are creating an open-air art gallery where, wandering among the trees, guests will encounter site-specific, large-scale commissions by contemporary artists, including America’s legendary James Turrell and prized Mexican artist Jose Dávila.

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Skyspace Amarta A manifestation of Turrell's lifelong devotion to exploring light and space

The most arresting work of art on the island is arguably the Skyspace Pavilion, a signature piece by Turrell. A member of the California Light and Space movement since the 1970s, he has been making these freestanding, room-sized pavilions that play with light as a tangible material in some of the farthest corners of the world. To the visitors inside, the pavilion’s open ceiling appears to flatten the sky, framing the clouds in such a way that they appear to be within reach. Hidden lights within the Skyspace subtly shift the viewer’s perception of the sky’s color, distance, shape, and density.
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An immersive experience A sensual abundance of light, color, and openness

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Blueprint MK27 worked directly with Turrell to create the pavilion

With much back and forth, Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan and his São Paulo firm Studio MK27 worked directly with Turrell to achieve the exacting specifications of the pavilion while imbuing the structure with the same look and feel of the island’s other amenities. “The structural engineering here was very, very sophisticated,” says Kogan, describing the razor-thin edges required for the ceiling to create these striking effects. The parts were fabricated in Germany and later assembled on site, with the added touch of Studio MK27 DNA again in the form of walls made of vertical wooden slats, designed to add a dance of shadows that continuously change throughout the day.

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Patina Maldives villa A lush landscape and open-plan setting blur the inside outside boundaries

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Los Límites de lo Posible IX One of Dávila's series of sculptures made with volcanic rock and raw sandstone

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Palms Vasconcellos' photograph inspired by 19th-century engravings and paintings

‍As an homage to the island’s native vegetation, Talenia Phua Gajardo, director of Singapore-based art consultancy The Artling, commissioned renowned Brazilian photographer Cássio Vasconcellos to capture large scale images of Maldivian flora and fauna for each of the villas, to accentuate the interiors’ tropical sense of place. “Bringing Maldives into the room,” Radomysler says of Vasconcellos’ images, “is a joyful experience for the senses.”

As another way to interact with the land-based outdoors, visitors will be provided with maps that lead to a collection of outdoor sculptures. “The discovery process adds another layer to the guests’ experiences,” says Gajardo, who curated the Patina Maldives collection as a range of artistic encounters that visitors can interact with directly. She worked with both the interior designers and the landscape architects to install the art program, which was treated not as decoration, but as an integral part of the hotel. “Everything is bespoke,” she adds, emphasizing the importance of each work being specifically made for the island. ‍

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“I was certainly thinking of the colors and fragile ecology of the island setting,” she says, “and I approached the wide canvas as a horizon between the depth of ocean and sky.”

Hiroko Takeda

At the arrival greenhouse, visitors will be greeted by a six-meter-wide textile by Hiroko Takeda, a New York-based artist who trained in the Japanese craft tradition of Mingei Undo. Using blue and green cotton linen yarn, she has woven together a composition of movement and rhythm, light and shadow.

The texture of the heavy resulting fabric is a strong introduction to the other artworks awaiting discovery ahead. All five of them were commissioned specifically for the island by Gajardo, “Every single piece is a different story, a different journey, a different materiality,” she says. ‍

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Synthesis Monoliths Yang plays with the notion of the uncanny where an initial familiarity is undermined by uncertainties around the objects origins and processes through which they were made

In a clearing among the palm trees, the Netherlands-based Chinese artist Hongjie Yang installed a series of eight mirrored columns directly onto the white sand. Standing at human height and made from marine grade stainless steel that can withstand the tropical elements, the columns’ surfaces alternate between a pristine mirror-polish and craggy, almost volcanic formations. “They’re arranged in a way that causes them to appear as some sort of archeological discovery,” Yang says. As viewers walk through the works, they become immersed in reflections not only of themselves, but their surroundings as well. “The installation is physically and symbolically like a ‘middle ground’ that serves as the connecting point between the viewer and their own deeper connection to the environment, nature, and ultimately the larger universe.”

Down on the beach, FAHR 021.3, a Porto-based studio founded by architects Filipa Frois Almeida and Hugo Reis, have created a simple swooping gesture out of a large slab of white concrete, “Almost like a sail, or a sheet of paper,” says Reis, expanded to the size of a wall. Visitors are invited to interact with it however they like: to jump up and down on it or lie down and take a nap in its curve, like a hammock. “It’s like a small stage that offers as much a sense of freedom as the rest of the island, and at the same time allows people to somehow relate themselves to the surroundings.”

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Momento FAHR 021.3 has created a temporal moment that hovers over the beach

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“The Making of Patina’’ is an article in the 2021 issue of Directions, our annual magazine that looks at movements in travel, art, design, food, and wellness. This year’s issue “Odyssey’’ explores the central theme of Walking by inviting a broad range of voices to take a conscious exploration of this simple act.

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