Sunday, February 22, 2015

James Turrell a retrospective

As part of the 101 human brochure programme I’d been lucky enough to attend ‘Skyspace’ at the National Gallery of Australia and now thanks to a friend (and fellow human) of mine I went along to James Turrell a retrospective currently showing at the National Gallery.

The exhibition forms part of a larger exposition of Turrell’s work. At the end of the Skyspace experience I’d been a bit unsure about how I felt about the artist and his works, but this exhibition put things much more in context – tracing the artists early ideas through to ‘installations’ and ‘projections’. The other three ladies I was with were all enthused about Turrell and the more we saw of his work it became impossible not to be impressed with his thinking and talent. It certainly isn’t an exhibition for everyone but many of the works were really fascinating and going as a group of four of us allowed us to remark on different aspects of what we were looking at, rather than making judgements from a solitary perspective.

There are two rooms with projections in them – I started doing shadow puppets on one of the walls and was rebuked by a guide who told me “This is a masterpiece, not a puppet show!” thereby putting me in my place like a naughty schoolboy.

The final room is bathed in multiple colours which alternate and change during the six or so minutes you’re in there. It was almost hallucinogenic in quality – without the drugs obviously. When we first stepped into the room it felt like walking into an Apple advert!

Coming out I realised that I’d changed my view on Turrell. I had my doubts at first – ‘painting with light’ could be perceived as a load of old hogwash, but actually experiencing a number of works first hand gave you a different take on things. I liked it.

Here's my visit to Skyspace

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