Influenced by the notion of phenomenology in pictorial art, Turrell focused, in his earliest work, on the dialectic between constructing light and painting with it, building on the sensorial experience of space, colour, and perception. These interactions became the foundation for Turrell’s oeuvre, which evolved to an investigation of the immateriality of light itself.
Turrell’s exhibition at Pace features three new works from the Constellation series staged in site-designed chambers. The works will feature elliptical and circular shapes with a frosted glass surface animated by an array of technically advanced LED lights, which are mounted to a wall and generated by a computer programme. The light changes are subtle and hypnotic, one colour morphing into the next. The programme runs on a loop that is imperceptible to the viewer, prompting a transcendental experience. With these new works, Turrell continues his exploration of technological possibilities combined with sensory practices and gradient colours.
“To some degree, to control light I have to have a way to form it, so I use form almost like the stretcher bar of a canvas... When I prepare walls, I make them so perfect that you actually don’t pay attention to them. This is true of the architecture of form I use: I am interested in the form of the space and the form of territory, of how we consciously inhabit space.” James Turrell.
Since his earliest Projection Pieces (1966–69), Turrell’s exploration has expanded through various series, including Skyspaces (1974–), Ganzfelds (1976–), and perhaps most notably, his Roden Crater Project (1977–) near Flagstaff, Arizona. Representing the culmination of the artist’s lifelong research in the field of human visual and psychological perception, Roden Crater is a controlled environment for the experiencing and contemplation of light and stars, a shared interest with Pace’s exhibition in London. Fundraising is underway to complete the construction and open it to the public.
Turrell’s practice has equally materialized in small-scale works, including architectural models, holograms, and works on paper. His inspiration draws from astronomy, physics, architecture and theology.
© James Turrell, courtesy of Pace Gallery
Photos by Damian Griffiths