The Illusion of Light at Palazzo Grassi -Art
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Latifa Echakhch, "Fantôme (Jasmin)", 2012 / "A chaque stencil une révolution", 2007. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

The Illusion of Light at Palazzo Grassi

In their last exhibition “The Illusion of Light”, Palazzo Grassi explores the physical, aesthetic, symbolic, philosophical and political stakes of an essential dimension of human experience: light.

The exhibition opens a with a massive work conceived by Californian artist Doug Wheeler that occupies the entire atrium of Palazzo Grassi. The visitor can walk into an open room with a lighting so bright it nullifies the ability to actually see, making the dimensions impossible to discern and dissolving the points of reference.

The exhibition continues through the works of twenty artists from the 1960s to today, evoking the ambivalence of light, its meanings and values.

Doug Wheeler, "D-N SF 12 PG VI 14", 2012. Reinforced fiberglass, titanium dioxide paint, LED lights, and DMX control. 294 x 504 x 504 inches / 746.7 x 1280.2 x 1280.2 cm. Photo by Fulvio Orsenigo © 2014 Doug Wheeler; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London.

Doug Wheeler, “D-N SF 12 PG VI 14”, 2012. Reinforced fiberglass, titanium dioxide paint, LED lights, and DMX control. 294 x 504 x 504 inches / 746.7 x 1280.2 x 1280.2 cm. Photo by Fulvio Orsenigo © 2014 Doug Wheeler; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London.

Troy Brauntuch, "State Trooper", 2013 / "Criminal", 2013. Courtesy the artist and Petzel Gallery, New York. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Troy Brauntuch, “State Trooper”, 2013 / “Criminal”, 2013. Courtesy the artist and Petzel Gallery, New York. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

MARCEL BROODTHAERS LE SALON NOIR, 1966

MARCEL BROODTHAERS
LE SALON NOIR, 1966

General Idea, "White AIDS #1 (red)", "White AIDS #2 (green)", "White AIDS #3 (blue)", 1993. Courtesy Galerie Esther Schipper, Berlin. Pinault Collection. Ph: © Andrea Rossetti

General Idea, “White AIDS #1 (red)”, “White AIDS #2 (green)”, “White AIDS #3 (blue)”, 1993. Courtesy Galerie Esther Schipper, Berlin. Pinault Collection. Ph: © Andrea Rossetti

Robert Irwin, "#8 x 8’ Fourfold", 2010. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Xippas, Paris. Pinault Collection. Ph: © Frédéric Lanternier © Robert Irwin by SIAE 2014

Robert Irwin, “#8 x 8’ Fourfold”, 2010. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Xippas, Paris. Pinault Collection. Ph: © Frédéric Lanternier © Robert Irwin by SIAE 2014

Bertrand Lavier, "Ifafa III", 2003. Courtesy the artist and Yvon Lambert, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo © Bertrand Lavier by SIAE 2014

Bertrand Lavier, “Ifafa III”, 2003. Courtesy the artist and Yvon Lambert, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo © Bertrand Lavier by SIAE 2014

Julio Le Parc, "Continuel Lumière Cylindre", 1962-­2012. Courtesy the artist and Bugada & Cargnel, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo © Julio Le Parc by SIAE 2014

Julio Le Parc, “Continuel Lumière Cylindre”, 1962-­2012. Courtesy the artist and Bugada & Cargnel, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo © Julio Le Parc by SIAE 2014

Philippe Parreno, "Marquee", 2013. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Esther Schipper, Berlin. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Philippe Parreno, “Marquee”, 2013. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Esther Schipper, Berlin. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Claire Tabouret, "Les Veilleurs", 2014. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Isabelle Gounod, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Claire Tabouret, “Les Veilleurs”, 2014. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Isabelle Gounod, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Danh Vo, "Autoerotic Asphyxiation", 2010. Courtesy Danh Vo and Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin. Pinault Collection. Ph: Artists Space NY

Danh Vo, “Autoerotic Asphyxiation”, 2010. Courtesy Danh Vo and Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin. Pinault Collection. Ph: Artists Space NY

David Claerbout, "Oil workers (from the Shell company of Nigeria) returning home from work, caught in torrential rain", 2013. Pinault Collection. Courtesy the artist and Yvon Lambert, Paris © David Claerbout by SIAE 2014

David Claerbout, “Oil workers (from the Shell company of Nigeria) returning home from work, caught in torrential rain”, 2013. Pinault Collection. Courtesy the artist and Yvon Lambert, Paris © David Claerbout by SIAE 2014

Latifa Echakhch, "Fantôme (Jasmin)", 2012 / "A chaque stencil une révolution", 2007. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Latifa Echakhch, “Fantôme (Jasmin)”, 2012 / “A chaque stencil une révolution”, 2007. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Latifa Echakhch, "Fantôme (Jasmin)", 2012 / "A chaque stencil une révolution", 2007. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Latifa Echakhch, “Fantôme (Jasmin)”, 2012 / “A chaque stencil une révolution”, 2007. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Dan Flavin, "Monument for V. Tatlin", 1964. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo © 2014 Stephen Flavin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York © Dan Flavin by SIAE 2014

Dan Flavin, “Monument for V. Tatlin”, 1964. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo © 2014 Stephen Flavin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York © Dan Flavin by SIAE 2014

Vidya Gastaldon, "Escalator (Rainbow Rain)", 2007. Courtesy the artist and Art: Concept, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Vidya Gastaldon, “Escalator (Rainbow Rain)”, 2007. Courtesy the artist and Art: Concept, Paris. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Gilbert & George, "Dead Boards No. 11", 1976. Courtesy the artists. Pinault CollectionGilbert & George, "Dead Boards No. 11", 1976. Courtesy the artists. Pinault Collection

Gilbert & George, “Dead Boards No. 11”, 1976. Courtesy the artists. Pinault CollectionGilbert & George, “Dead Boards No. 11”, 1976. Courtesy the artists. Pinault Collection

Antoni Muntadas, "Diálogo", 1980. Courtesy the artist and Kent Fine Art, New York. Pinault Collection. © Antoni Muntadas by SIAE 2014

Antoni Muntadas, “Diálogo”, 1980. Courtesy the artist and Kent Fine Art, New York. Pinault Collection. © Antoni Muntadas by SIAE 2014

Sturtevant, "Stella Die Fahne hoch!", 1990. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg. Pinault CollectionSturtevant, "Stella Die Fahne hoch!", 1990. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg. Pinault Collection

Sturtevant, “Stella Die Fahne hoch!”, 1990. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg. Pinault CollectionSturtevant, “Stella Die Fahne hoch!”, 1990. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg. Pinault Collection

Robert Whitman, "Untitled (Light Bulb)", 1994‐1995. Courtesy the artist and Broadway 1602, New York. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

Robert Whitman, “Untitled (Light Bulb)”, 1994‐1995. Courtesy the artist and Broadway 1602, New York. Pinault Collection. Installation view at Palazzo Grassi 2014. Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo

 

In his use of neon lights, Robert Irwin resorts to a more minimal and distanced artistic language to transform space, the setting, through light: the neon tube, a raw industrial material, is left visible. In Dan Flavin’s work, this connection with architecture is consistent with a close relationship with the history of avant-garde art movements, in this case Tatlin, the main representative of Russian Constructivism. With its modest and fragile materials, Vidya Gastaldon’s installation offers a delicate and joyous counterpoint to these approaches to the transformation of space.

As for him, Julio Le Parc, one of the main protagonists of optical art since the 1960s, plays with the hypnotic and kinetic potentialities of light. The light effects of Philippe Parreno’s Marquee refer to a mise en abyme of the system of signs on which the world of entertainment relies. It evokes its transience, its vacuity as well as its power of fascination. Antoni Muntadas and Robert Whitman get onto this notion of fascination of light but focus on its simplest and most modest tool: the light bulb; this ordinary object is transfigured and gives a material shape to the dreamlike dimension of light. Finally, Bruce Conner’s film exerts a fascination tainted by horror: to reveal a vision of the world that is both gloomy and politically committed, the artist used images made by the American government during the atomic bomb tests in 1946 at the Bikini Atoll.

The works by Sturtevant and Bertrand Lavier stem from radically different approaches, mediums and artistic languages but are here engaged in a dialogue. Both works refer to the history of art (in particular to the American artist Frank Stella), with a dialectic based on black versus colors, darkness versus light. As for her, Claire Tabouret, the youngest artist of the exhibition, refers to the great Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello and attempts to bring to mind all the nuances of lights, from day to night, in a single painting.

Troy Brauntuch’s black paintings go straight to the heart of darkness, to the limits of the visible, to conjure up the desire to see everything, the visual obsession that permeates our society.

General Idea, on the contrary, uses the blinding quality of white to make apparent the threat of Aids that weighs on us. The works by Marcel Broodthaers and Gilbert & George also deal with our basic fears – in first position death, obviously – but also our strategies to fight these fears. Finally, Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s work invites us to an introspective approach. Set between dreams and reality, reason and madness, she evokes the need to conduct an inner search, to change point of view (to shed light) on our own history.

Shadows and light in relation to collective history are also evoked: contemporary Africa in David Claerbout’s video, the Arab Spring in Latifa Echakhch’s work, and colonialism in Danh Vo’s great installation that unfolds over, and transforms, the central room on the piano nobile.

 

 

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Photos and text courtesy of Palazzo Grassi