James Turrell Colour in Motion Reflects Our Modern Day ADD

James Turrell

Pace London’s current exhibition features the American artist James Turrell. Dividing its exhibition space to show each of Turrell’s works separately, it blends two tall glass pieces, Sojourn and Sensing Thought, and two wide glass pieces, Kermandec and Pelée. Turrell uses an aperture with a frosted and curved glass façade illuminated by computerized LED lights. Works from the Wide Glass series were recently shown in Los Angeles at LACMA, but the Pace show also includes two never-before-seen Wide Glass pieces.

On my first look at Sojourn, in the ground floor gallery showroom, a pale aquamarine colour was radiating from a blue background. The abstract image revealed no concrete forms, but I felt the impact of the intense tone almost as if the work was vibrating in front of me. After walking to the adjacent gallery to see Pelée, I returned to discover that Sojourn had morphed into a bright pink. The gradual transformation is like watching a cell go through mitosis under a microscope, and the experience of watching colour morph is both awe inspiring and meditative.

Turrell’s pieces are the contemporary Colour Fields for the constantly moving 21st century. Like the works of Newman and Rothko, these works achieve the sublime in each colour state; however, light installations are not as limited as the more permanent medium, paint on canvas. The Rothko Room at the Phillips Collection contains four paintings, Green and Maroon, Green and Tangerine on Red, Orange and Red on Red, and Ochre and Red on Red. Viewing the five states of Sojourn separately in one room would have followed the Rothko tradition, but Turrell’s installations combine five different colourful images into one piece.

We are accustomed to nonstop changing images, and the younger generation are excellent at multitasking but struggle more and more with single focus. Turrell reflects our modern day ADD in his work by keeping his colours in constant flux, while still managing to preserve the sublime emotional effect of an Abstract Expressionist canvas.

 The show runs from until April 8th, and it is sure to draw the crowds of art enthusiasts from around London.

Words: By Katherine Morais © Artlyst 2014 Photo: Colour in Motion: James Turrell at Pace Gallery, Burlington Gardens