The Cistercian Abbey Le Thoronet

photographed by Hisao Suzuki

JA+U : The Cistercian Abbey Le Thoronet by Hisao Suzuki ©Hisao Suzuki

From dawn to dusk, chasing the story of light as told throughout the abbey. A band of light that moves very elegantly, faint light leaking in that suddenly penetrates like a lance and then disappears a few seconds later. A chapel flooded in warm colors by light reflected from stone. And how to describe the light coming in from the small openings in the apse? Stone walls come into view when struck by light. At those times, the light is there but cannot be perceived visually.

JA+U : The Cistercian Abbey Le Thoronet by Hisao Suzuki ©Hisao Suzuki

JA+U : The Cistercian Abbey Le Thoronet by Hisao Suzuki ©Hisao Suzuki

At this abbey, the only element to which absolute freedom has been granted is light. From the early morning when it peeks in through the small window in the apse, to evening when it announces it departure from the rose window, it leans on the walls, squats down on the stairs, and runs around and across the pews in the nave. The instant after it was stretching up to the arches in the corridor, it quickly penetrates the gaps between the tiles on the floor, and then disappears. We tried several times to get ahead of it, so as not to miss the duet between the light and the beautifully fitted stones, and noticed that in the meantime we had been stepping on shadows.

JA+U : The Cistercian Abbey Le Thoronet by Hisao Suzuki ©Hisao Suzuki

Editors note: More of Mr. Suzuki’s personal reflections on his craft can be read in his essay: La Luz Mágica – Magic Light. The printed edition of A+U contains these photographs and many more selected by Hisao Suzuki and printed in high quality.