James Turrell - A RetrospectiveShare Event on Facebook Share Event on Twitter Share Event on LinkedIn
I’ve always wondered about light and our perception of it. Knowing that in a deep well you can look at the sky during the day and see the stars, marveling at the exquisite north-western sky that is best viewed from a swag in the Kimberley while tracking the movement of the night sky, and the light that is Australia, brilliantly blinding in the summer, crisp and clear in the winter. It is the best welcome home from the human detritus in the sky of other places.
James Turrell knows light. It has been a 50 year artistic pursuit and the exhibition James Turrell A Retrospective will change your perceptions, enhance them too, and take you on a journey light years in the making. It is sensuous and seductive, stilling and stirring, magical and mystical, all without the need of mind altering substances!
Turrell is from a Quaker background, he is a man with a quiet mien and a Santa beard to impress all small children at this time of the year and he’s been visiting Canberra for 18 years enjoying the experience of our light and under the auspices of former director Ron Radford, a guest among the many at the opening, working to bring to fruition the extraordinary Turrell Skyspace in 2010.
James Turrell A Retrospective is an exhibition to immerse yourself in and be bathed in the colour and light without removing a stitch of clothing, though I would posit that to enter the Perpetual Cell would be a better experience naked – and no I didn’t.
I did know though that 2015 is the United Nations International Year of Light and I thought perhaps the National Gallery of Australia was being pre-emptive in launching us into the light that is this James Turrell Retrospective, but not a mention at the opening. But if you thought you knew everything you needed to know about light take your eyes into the voids, let the light encompass you, suspend all preconceptions and bathe in the glows that Turrell creates in a variety of installations, among the drawings, prints, photographs and yet to be created spaces in this unique retrospective.
It will be a deeply personal experience.
The official opening was a picture of hot pink. Walls painted, pink carpet to walk, pink drinks to sip, pink pinnies on the staff and pink lights to give us a glow in the themed to the nth degree Gandel Hall where the new, and still glowing in his excitement, Chief Minister Andrew Barr stepped up to the podium and applause to open the retrospective and extol the Turrell ‘experience’ he’d just enjoyed. That was the Perceptual cell, a deep sea diving bell akin to a Jules Verne creation to give you 15 minutes of intense light to slide into. Turrell loves our southern sky and his NGA Skyspace reveals it. Now his light sculptures become an intangible all encompassing experience for us to go where only light has gone before.