The New Light of James Turrell. Pace Gallery, London

At 6 Burlington Gardens, the Pace Gallery in London presents a sublime exhibition by James Turrell who, the connoisseurs may notice, was announced by the work Mors Somnus, presented for the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2019, in conjunction with the exhibition At the Edges of Things at the PACE Gallery, which presented, among others, works by Mary Corse, reflecting upon the influence of the Light & Space Movement in the contemporary context. From 11 February 2020, PACE Gallery pays homage, for the ninth time, to Turrell with a solo-show and presents a choice of works, part of the Constellation series which is the culmination of more than 50 years of artistic investigation on the subject of light that is distinguished  for the use of sophisticated technology, an element that has interested the artist since his contribution to the Art & Technology program by the LACMA Museum in LA in the late 1960s.

In particular, as stated by the curatorial director Oliver Shultz, Constellation meditates on the bond between light, phenomenology, and space, always been the grammar of Turrell’s language, and supersedes the form of the projection and illusion that characterize his early works, to dwell on the revelation of the materiality and the physical manifestation of light in analogy with pictorial forms.

According to Shultz’s introduction, the three works Sagittarius, Cassiopeia, Pegasus figure luminous portals, or architectures of thought, which allow an encounter with light by rethinking spaces within space, otherwise differently understood through Turrell’s notion of ‘sensing spacè. Through this operation, Turrell invites the viewer to rethink light no longer as the metaphor of reason and geometrical optics, but his work reveals a materiality of light in its highest and most sublime form which, he suggests, can be apprehended through a phenomenology of sensation in relation to contexts of emplacement. Consisting of materials such as L.E.D lights, etched glass, and spatial devices, the triptych Constellation masterfully sits within the gallery’s context and figures the arcane geometry of light’s phenomena.

Without the use of formal expedients, Turrell figures a geometry of sensation that overcomes the laws of optics and articulates through the figures of two  ellipses encrusted within a circular figure in the middle of composition. By suggesting a possible conjunction with the cosmological dimension of light, Constellation articulates a poetics of distance that figures light as a revelation in relation to events, movement, and contexts. In this distance, Turrell invites to a conscious experience of light, which we can perceive in the heights of the vertical forms of Pegasus, to then suggest a possible conjunction with these heights following the circular shape of the Cassiopeia, until creating an alignment with these dimension as suggested by the horizontal axis of Pegasus painting wherein light resists actual manifestation covered by a glass surface.

Comprehensively, Turrell’s geometry permeates the gallery with an affective and virtual atmosphere to reveal a new configuration that resonates with an arcane experience. His meditative thought is manifested through the physical and sensorial experience of his light-paintings whereby Turrell solicits a certain depth of vision, focusing on the manifestation of a nimbus of light that emanates vividly from the surface of his paintings by reflecting a chromatic spectrum that is never been so vivid and vibrant in other works.

With Constellations, Turrell proposes a configuration of light that is never completely exhausted in a single thought or sensation. His works are surrounded by an indescribable charm that immediately leverages our desire for knowledge. It may be that his chosen theme is the primary condition of artistic manifestations, or that his use of technology has extended the horizons of phenomenology, or even that the context wherein Turrell’s practice emerged is more prone to innovation, in any case, Turrell’s practice proposes a new configuration of light that reunites the intellect and the senses. Despite this formal innovation, however, his work resonates with the simplicity and the quiet grandeur of classical composition that positions Turrell in line with the light painters of the great tradition.

Turrell’s practice continues for more than 50 years and PACE Gallery extends his tribute to the artist in collaboration with Kayne Corcoran Gallery, presenting an immersive exhibition on his Glass works series, 2006, in coincidence with Frieze LA. This event celebrates the unfinished project Roden Crater, a Land Art work conceived by the artist since 1977, which aims at transforming a volcanic cone, located in the Painted Desert of Northern Arizona, in a ‘naked-eye observatory’. On this occasion, PACE and Kayne Corcoran galleries present the Support Light project –  hashtag #supportlight in support of the completion of this monumental work.

Info:

James Turrell
PACE GALLERY London
11 February – 27 March 2020
http://rodencrater.com/support/

1. James Turrell – PACE Gallery, Burlington Gardens, London 2020 © James Turrell, Courtesy Pace GalleryJames Turrell – PACE Gallery, Burlington Gardens, London 2020 © James Turrell, Courtesy Pace Gallery

James Turrell, from Constellations series, PACE Gallery, Burlington Gardens, London 2020 L.E.D. light, etched glass e shallow space – installation view © James Turrell, Courtesy Pace Gallery

James Turrell, from Constellations series, PACE Gallery, Burlington Gardens, London 2020 L.E.D. light, etched glass e shallow space – installation view © James Turrell, Courtesy Pace Gallery

James Turrell, from Constellations series, PACE Gallery, Burlington Gardens, London 2020 L.E.D. light, etched glass e shallow space – installation view © James Turrell, Courtesy Pace Gallery