Daniel Buren travels in between the lines in New Taipei 

Banqiao Y15 MRT Station is the Jewel of the new Circular Line.
Banqiao Y15 MRT Station is the Jewel of the new Circular Line.

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Daniel Buren is a figure to go down in art history for his unconventional in situ permanent displays that present art in a way highlighting the creative process as opposed to the representation of pieces that disregard autonomous art 

The French conceptual artist has coined the term “in situ” for the connection between his work and where it takes place. He disapproved of traditional ways of presenting art, thus making it rare to find his pieces that are mobile and lacking context. His choice often falls under installation art as this concept aligns best with his own creative beliefs. 

Banqiao Y15 MRT Station is the Jewel of the new Circular Line.
Banqiao Y15 MRT Station is the Jewel of the new Circular Line. (Dimitri Bruyas)

A Reflection and Interaction from the Viewers 

Contrary to all expectations, the artist believes that photographs do not capture the actual essence of art, rather only represent “souvenirs” of the initial piece. The process by which he takes his conceptual work and merges it into the public realm will always be a vital, affluential and bona fide practice. 

The design of Banqiao Y15 MRT Station, themed “Rainbow Treasure Box,” engages passengers with colors and patterns.
The design of Banqiao Y15 MRT Station, themed “Rainbow Treasure Box,” engages passengers with colors and patterns. (Dimitri Bruyas)

He is renowned for pieces such as “Les deux plateau” which sparked controversy in 1986 when it was first put on display. The 3,000 square meter sculpture in the courtyard of the Royal Palace in Paris made the public question the ethics behind using historical sites as a canvas for artists. 

 He is a minimalist artist whose works have been displayed at leading museums and art foundations worldwide since the 1960s’.
Buren is a minimalist artist whose works have been displayed at leading museums and art foundations worldwide since the 1960s’. (Dimitri Bruyas)

An installation for Louis Vuitton in France named “Observatory of Light” was made and displayed from May 2016 to April 2017. It contained 12 “sails” of glass shards that created unique vibrant amalgamations of light that enveloped viewers. Buren utilized 3,600 pieces of glass that were positioned equidistance from each other and varied in 13 different colors which accompanied his signature white stripes. 

Second floor, Banqiao Y15 MRT Station
The second floor, Banqiao Y15 MRT Station. (Dimitri Bruyas)

Buren’s breathtaking public artworks have adorned several countries all the same, he finished his first permanent public commission in the United Kingdom. “Diamonds and Circles” revamps Tottenham Court Road station and is fixed within the prebuilt glass walls. It layers vibrant diamonds and circles with Buren’s signature stripes of white alternating with black. This project offers millions of Tube users a taste of high-end, fantastic contemporary art. 

In situ works such as this one exist parallel to the site that were prompted in. Specific features of the site are analyzed and considered, these inspire and allow a transformation of the space. Features of a site that are considered are the architecture, entrances, exits, windows, corridors and layout of rooms.  

Other aspects of the space that are considered are far more metaphysical and significant, things like political, social and economic forces within the society or community. Since his work considers various factors, there is no doubt that they are each unique and meaningful to the site in which they exist.

In addition to the platforms and the ceilings, most of the walls of the metro station are rich in colors and stripes.
In addition to the platforms and the ceilings, most of the walls of the metro station are rich in colors and stripes. (Dimitri Bruyas)

For these reasons, Buren’s work represents the scenarios of mundane existence and refuses the idea that art is for the elite’s entertainment. His art exists to encourage reflection and interaction from the viewers. 

The station boasts the artist’s iconic strips pattern in eight different colors.
The station boasts the artist’s iconic strips pattern in eight different colors. (Dimitri Bruyas)

“Diamonds and Circles” premiere at Tottenham Court Road station was conceptualized in 2008 when Buren was offered the chance to showcase his art. His commission was part of a scheme to reconstruct the station as a key interchange port in London. He completed this project in 2017.  

Buren has stated on his most recent work that utilizing public areas for him is thrilling and it morphs the area’s impact on passerby “connections between all of these things… Museums attract only a portion of the population. The public in the Tube station is everyone, and there is a constant flux of people running both ways. I want to offer them a beautiful bubble of oxygen for the spirit.”  

Each entrance and exit of the station were given “distinct identities” and this was particularly emphasized by Buren. He stated that it was “natural” to do so and make the entire structure unique. During another interview, Buren discussed the impact that his piece had on the daily users of the Metro and he emphasized the furious movement of travelers and the trains juxtaposed the stillness and vibrancy of the art.  

The purpose of the installation was to make people stop and pace their lives and consider its symbolism. Buren finds it fascinating that there is contrast between motion and speed, the concept of underground where people disappear and emerge while there is rapid movement. 

The piece brings the vivid and extraordinary world of art into the average daily commutes of the public. The installation was completed when the final cabinet topping off at 2.4 meters. It contained similar motifs and symbols as the rest of the installation. His work on Tottenham Court road station joins previous glass mosaics made by Eduardo Paolozzi which made their debut in 1984. 

Stripes are Buren’s signature and he is colloquially known as “The Stripe Guy”. They remain a key feature of his works because of their simplistic and repetitive pattern. Each stripe is the equidistance apart at 8.7cm per stripe and alternate between white and another color, this remains constant in all his pieces.  

Its significance pays homage to his French ethnicity but also portrays the theme of occupying space and expression within space rather than space itself. The stripes are a radical oeuvre which is set apart by his use of “seeing tool” through which art is represented outside of its traditional norms and rules. 

 The Banqiao station on the circular line boasts a colorful theme designed by Daniel Buren.
The Banqiao station on the circular line boasts a colorful theme designed by Daniel Buren. (Dimitri Bruyas)

In Between Reflections’ at Banqiao Station 

Less know to the general public, “Sans Titre,” completed in 2002, decorates the outside of a Taiwanese local high school. Most people don’t know, Buren has made several visits to Taiwan where he recently unveiled another in situ piece at the Banqiao MRT station. 

The first section of the new MRT Circular Line started operations on Jan. 31 with Banqiao Y15 Station sitting at its heart with its colorful design made of stripes and LED lights. The station boasts the artist’s iconic stripe pattern in eight different colors that are used through the platforms and some of the ceilings of the metro station, the pillars under the station and its north facade. 

To begin, two LED lights are suspended from the ceiling of the station above the embarkation areas. Their dimension is 74.3 meters long and 2 meters wide. They are each made up of 427 strips of length 2 meters and 87 millimeters wide-spaced from each other by a vacuum of 87 millimeters. That’s a total of 854 LED strips.  

All the strips are assembled on a rear frame that allows their attachment to the ceiling and the power supply wiring. LEDs are multi-color under DMX type electronic control to program light effects. The initial scenario proposed for this light installation is as follows: The two banners are illuminated every hour, for eight hours, three times a day according to the following scenario: 

On the north facade of the building, the artist also deployed a decorative frame in black and white in the form of a sinusoidal wave. This sinusoid has a wavelength of 42.65 meters and an amplitude of 8 meters. Its total length is 101.58 meters. The total area (excluding windows and trellises) is 613 m². The pattern used to make this frame is the same pattern used for the stairs of the station. These 1,218 mm x 1,218 mm panels are fixed on the facade. They are made of enameled sheet, painted black and white. 

Meanwhile, two large staircases are clad with decorative panels made of enameled metal sheets measuring 1,218 cm x 1,218 cm. The patterns on these panels include bands and spaces between the strips that have a width of 87 mm. This dimension of 87 mm regulates the position of all panels from the first to the last, taking into account the space required for joints between panels. 

On the north facade of the building, the artist also deployed a decorative frame in black and white in the form of sinusoidal wave
On the north facade of the building, the artist also deployed a decorative frame in black and white in the form of sinusoidal wave (Dimitri Bruyas)

This cladding is deployed on the sidewalls, on the walls facing the stairs and on the ceilings. The dressing consists of 8 different patterns in black and white, or in white and 8 colors. Each staircase features the mirror-colored patterns, on one of the sidewalls, the black and white patterns, on the other side wall the colorful one. These motifs fit on the front walls and ceilings to meet the central axis of the staircase that is the break line between color and black and white, forming a virtual mirror. 

The station boasts the artist’s iconic strips pattern in eight different colors.
The station boasts the artist’s iconic strips pattern in eight different colors. (Dimitri Bruyas)

This project has two elements made on each of the two concourses. First, the motifs on glazed parts. The printing of vertical stripes on the glass parts of the embarkation platform. These vertical bands are made either by engraving on the glass, or by application of paint or white adhesive.  

They are 87 mm wide and spaced 87 mm apart. These patterns are applied to the glass railings of the connecting bridges between the platforms. Second, the coloring of the lacquered steel pillars located between the glazed parts. Each of the 15 pillars boasts a rainbow color. 

 96 panels of 2.088 x 2.088 meters enameled metal sheet. Each pillar is dressed with eight panels. On a height of 4,176 meters, the height of 2 panels. 

The eight motifs inscribed on the panels are identical on each pillar but one pillar out of two is in black and white while the other is colored of the eight colors: six black and white pillars and six pillars in eight colors. The colors are identical to those used for the stairways.

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