The Magic of Juan Grimm

  • October 08, 2013
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A thin strip , edges  South America on its western edge. It is like a line etched on the edge of a mammoth land mass, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountain. Amongst many others, the Easter Islands belong to this country, and also parts of the Antarctica. Its northern edge has deserts rich in copper, the centre with agricultural resources, the south with forests, lakes and volcanoes. This is Chile.
The landscape is stunning, surreal , poetic and can make great art blush.
I  saw it for the first time , a couple of weeks back.
On a large screen, sometimes accompanied by soulful music, a landscape architect from Chile, revealed its magic.
He struggled with English, but it did not matter, since the passion in his words came through clearly, and his love for nature even more so.
Juan Grimm has designed hundreds of gardens, and embedded in each one of them is his deep devotion and admiration for the wonder for nature. He delivered a  two part lecture, the first more about the landscapes of Chile, the second about his work.

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Juan Grimm;  In the centre.

Images of the landscapes of his country appeared on the screen, much like a slow eternal dance, each more beautiful than the next, and as he talked about them the pride in the nature of his land, and the strong bond apparent. But also clear was the artists eye that discerned patterns, rhythms, orders, compositions , that many would  not record. And then the manner in which he enjoyed the light, distinguished its many nuances, the texture of the land, the rocks, the colours of the land and leaves. The changing seasons, and with it the skies and the flora. All explained with a voice that tugged at your heart with its earnestness

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One wondered, with landscapes like this what was a landscape architect to do? Was his job easy or difficult ? How could he ever better such stunning nature ? How could he even dare to recreate it, if that’s what he wanted?  And Juan showed us how ! In a succession of projects he showed  lyrical plans, evolved after a series of strong characteristic sketches and each had three instruments- water, plants and stone, while the  sun, sky and the larger landscape were his partners. Together they made medley after medley- each more beautiful that the earlier. And in all of them his deep knowledge of plants, his careful observation of every mood of nature, was apparent. He was an equal partner, if not a master.

Amadori Gardens; A garden of stone and water.78
Inspired by agricultural patterns.

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Development sketches.
Below; The final development of stones, planting,  and as he called them ” water mirrors”82  83

Marambio Gardens; Central Chile.

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Its difficult if not impossible, to imagine whats done by the hand of the designer and what by that of God. All images above, are of the garden, designed and planted by Juan.

Boher Garden.; Central Zone- Chile.

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A garden where water traversed its space; a natural spring ran through the property and it was led, guided, pampered, ordered, so that it marked its presence in many ways.

Errazuriz Winery Garden; Central Zone- Chile.

A garden for an old vineyard that was restating its image .

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Above,left an image of the garden the way it existed, and on right the early development sketch.

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The new forecourt with water mirrors and planting in slashes that marks the progression of movement.

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Above; the details Wine Cellar  garden, and the building steps that were carefully detailed to be in continuum with the main gardens, along with other parts of the garden.

EL ROBEL GARDEN ; South zone – Chile

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CHILOE GARDEN ; South zone – Chile

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Above, two of the many gardens that shows the way the created and natural landscape melds, and becomes without an edge.

BAHIA AZUL GARDEN – North zone – Chile

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Above, pictures of Juans own house- one that he designed both , the landscape and the architecture for.

My training initially denied me the pleasure of appreciating Juans work. So invested am I in finding, defining, and making meanings in my work, that the idea of a design that recreates, mimics,echos and blends with nature just did not seem enough. That, to my mind could never be the purpose of landscape design- it could be one, but not the only one. The mind resisted- a whole lot! And the more I saw the images, and the more I thought about them, they consumed my mind and pushed every other thought out- it was almost a spiritual emptying of the mind.  Juans work is of unparalleled beauty- about obeisance to nature- and nothing else, and when done so beautifully- nothing more was needed at all. This was reason enough and a compelling one at that.

When I wrote him asking if I could blog about his work and in the mail complimented him for the work and how much I had enjoyed seeing it with  other colleagues in the office, again , his acknowledgement was simple, humble and charming.  He said “I think it is very simple ; take time to observe Nature .Here is everything . Don’t you think so ?”

You can mail him at jgrimm@mi.cl

Aniket Bhagwat

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