Titled Bloom of Joy, this show brings together works by modern and contemporary masters from Pace's program that are especially impactful with their brilliant palettes and focus on perception, including James Turrell, Sam Gilliam, Mary Corse, and Peter Alexander. Since last year, the world has experienced ideological conﬂicts and the impact and struggles brought about by a public health emergency. Many have begun to fall into dissatisfaction with contemporary reality and find the uncertain outlook for the future challenging. Under these circumstances, the show wishes to convey a much-needed uplifting spirit by engaging viewers with the mesmerising environment created by the presentation's aesthetics that are both vivacious and soothing as well as evoking hope.
James Turrell (b. 1943, Los Angeles, California), a leading figure of the Light and Space movement, has long devoted himself to the exploration of the art of perception with a special focus on the materiality of light. Influenced by the notion of pure feeling in pictorial art, Turrell's earliest work focused on the dialectic between constructing light and painting with light, building on the sensorial experience of space, colour, and perception; these interactions became the foundation for Turrell's oeuvre. Presented as site-specific pieces, the two recent works by Turrell in the exhibition are composed of rectangular shapes with a frosted glass surface animated by an array of technically advanced LED lights which are wall mounted and generated by computer programming. The light changes are subtle and hypnotic, one colour morphing into the next seamlessly. The program runs on a loop that is imperceptible to the viewer, prompting a transcendental experience. This wall-cavity filled with colour advances the lineage of abstract art, particularly calling to mind Mark Rothko's 'Color Field' paintings which for Turrell 'brought colour out of darkness.' In implicating the viewer in the temporal experience of colour within the physical and perceptual experience, Turrell turns light into a powerful substance.
Bloom of Joy marks the first presentation of Sam Gilliam's (b. 1933, Tupelo, Mississippi) works in Asia. Gilliam is well known for his canonical 'Drape' paintings, which expanded upon the tenets of Abstract Expressionism in entirely new ways, transferring paintings to a three-dimensional space. Since the early 1960s, Gilliam has also been creating richly coloured abstract compositions using watercolours on Japanese washi paper. The techniques that the artist has explored in watercolour—staining, folding, and otherwise distressing the surface of the paper—have exerted a powerful effect on his artistic practice as a whole. His works saturate the paper support with luminous pigment and transform the composition into an object rather than an image. Gilliam's most recent watercolours, two of which are displayed in the exhibition, extend this ongoing practice making colour palpable, a physical and textural presence that seems to belong more to our world than to the two-dimensional surface of the painting. Colour and support are inseparable: the paper becomes the colour, rather than a conveyer or carrier for it.
Other highlights of the show include works by Light and Space artist, Peter Alexander (b. 1939, Los Angeles, California; d. 2020, Santa Monica, California), featuring a cast urethane sculpture that refracts light rather than emits it; the work's effect is equally phenomenological, resisting verbal description through a singular and beguiling visual presence. Butter Your Grits (Don't That Just?), an installation by Alexander created this year characteristically arrests and cradles light within its nebulous interiors re-emitting it in a mirage-like emanation. In juxtaposition, a set of five relief prints made with glass microspheres by Mary Corse (b. 1945, Berkeley, California) will be presented. Known for her signature Band paintings, these works further emphasise the abstract nature of human perception for audiences to contemplate.
Press release courtesy Pace Gallery.