James Turrell at the Gagosian Gallery

Posted on December 7, 2010


There are just a few days left now to check out James Turrell at the Gagosian Gallery in King Cross and I can not recommend it enough.

The exhibition features Turrell’s recent installations, sculptures and prints that play with light and space. The centerpiece is his interactive installation Dhatu (2010), and is the one the hoards have been queuing around the gallery for, every weekend for the last few weeks.

When you have waited your turn and performed the ceremony of removing your shoes and donning plastic feet covers that make you feel like you are preparing to enter a new dimension, the smartly suited gallery attendants direct you to ascend the staircase and cross the threshold into the installation. The interior is large, although the dimensions not initially obvious. Beyond the end of the room there is a seeming infinity of light that bathes the white walls and the space all around you in an ethereal haze that confuses your space perception.

Turrell’s installations are all about contemplation and self-discovery. He creates spaces that demand complete immersion; sanctuaries from reality. Dhatu evokes ideas of a space after death, or before birth, a dream world or a non-space where nothing is determinable. Looking back on the outside space from within, the real world is no longer recognisable – the changing colour within the installation creates an optical illusion that makes the exterior gallery space seem similarly immersed in alien colour. This emphasises the feeling of isolation and creates a sense that things will never be the same again.

Turrell has been using the combination of light and space as an artistic medium for more than forty-five years. In this installation he manipulates light in a way that transcends its everyday use; the light gains a physical presence that boarders on the oppressive. Light is not only the medium but also the subject of his art. Turrell studied perceptual psychology during the 1960s and continues to explore the possibilities of perception created through the interplay of light and space.

Immerse yourself in Dhatu at the Gagosian Gallery, until the 10th December.