James Turrell’s retrospective at the National Gallery in Canberra drew to a close this weekend. I was one of the lucky last few people who caught a glimpse of his mind-boggling and beautiful artworks.
For more than 50 years, Turrell has been making art that uses light and space to challenge sensory perception. He says that he wants his audience to feel the physical presence of light, creating an experience that he describes as “wordless thought”. I can definitely say that this is the case – it’s hard to describe the sensation, or even exactly what you’re seeing, when you’re in the presence of a Turrell artwork.
Some of his most intriguing works are his Perceptual Cells; enclosed spaces in which one person at a time can witness intense light and colour (apparently you need to sign a waiver before going in!). There was one of these at the retrospective which was unfortunately booked out, but I believe the NGA has now purchased it for their permanent collection.
Head over to his site to have a look at his work.