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Almine Rech Shanghai debuts a new light work by James Turrell
James Turrell, City of Light, 2019. 121 x 213 cm, 47 3/5 x 83 7/8 inches. © James Turrell. Photo: Alessandro Wang, Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech.



SHANGHAI.- Almine Rech is presenting a new experiential light work by James Turrell, created on the occassion of his first solo show at the gallery’s Shanghai space. The presentation features a work from the artist’s ongoing Wide Glass series, begun in 2004. The show marks the 11th solo exhibition of James Turrell organized by Almine Rech since 1989.

Turrell’s concept of a Tall Glass or Wide Glass is a unique aperture—rectangular or elliptical, horizontal or vertical—in which the light changes slowly over the course of several hours through the use of translucent materials. In the past, Turrell’s Tall and Wide Glass works were realized in neon, but for the last 15 years the artist has turned to LED technologies, which allow for richer hues and a lower light level, offering the artist more freedom as to what shapes, transitions, and color combinations he can include within the series.

The works in this series are the result of Turrell’s research, started in the mid 1960s, on light as a material that affects perception of the human eye. Combined with this is the artist’s past 10 years of research on applying computer programming to his work. This technique is an aspect that Turrell developed for light works conceived for buildings, such as the Zug train station in Switzerland or the Peugeot Design Center in France.

The new work Turrell is debuting at Almine Rech Shanghai builds upon his earlier Wide Glass works, further evolving the series on the occassion of his presentation with the gallery. The installation reflects the artist’s unique ability to manipulate light and space, transforming the gallery into an immersive environment that engages viewers with the limits and wonder of human perception.

For over half a century, the American artist James Turrell has worked directly with light and space to create artworks that engage viewers with the limits and wonder of human perception. Turrell, an avid pilot who has logged over twelve thousand hours flying, considers the sky as his studio, material and canvas. New Yorker critic Calvin Tompkins writes, “His work is not about light, or a record of light; it is light — the physical presence of light made manifest in sensory form.”

Informed by his training in perceptual psychology and a childhood fascination with light, Turrell began experimenting with light as a medium in southern California in the mid-1960’s. The Pasadena Art Museum mounted a one-man show of his Projection Pieces, created with high-intensity projectors and precisely modified spaces, in 1967. Mendota Stoppages, a series of light works created and exhibited in his Santa Monica studio, paired Projection Pieces with structural cuts in the building, creating apertures open to the light outside. These investigations aligning and mixing interior and exterior, formed the groundwork for the open sky spaces found in his later Skyspace, Tunnel and Crater artworks.

Turrell’s medium is pure light. He says, “My work has no object, no image and no focus. With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought.”










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