Sunday, 1 March 2015

Creativity and Light in Chihuly's Lumière Exhibition


By Patche99z (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I first saw Dale Chihuly's amazingly innovative glass creations at his exhibition in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in 2005. I recently discovered another highly creative Chihuly exhibition in London.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Kew Gardens is one of my favourite places to visit. I have spent many happy hours there with my family and friends over the years. Chihuly's creations within such very familiar settings had unexpected appeal. As you walked through the grounds and the glasshouses, there were so many surprises among the plants - and even in the lake (see above).

I instantly loved the American artist's contemporary, intricate designs. They are very colourful. I particularly remember his bright yellow "Sun" with its enormous glass "squiggles". I have never seen anything so original in glass. Chihuly's chosen medium has a particularly strong appeal with its transparent, luminous and reflective qualities. I still have a strong memory of this unique exhibition from 10 years ago.


London's New Bond Street
On my way to the Chinese Whispers exhibition featured in earlier blogs, a glow ahead caught my attention in the fading evening light. The glowing light came from the windows of the Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street. Chihuly's creativity had drawn me in again.

Glowing light in window from Chihuly's light painting
Glowing window from Chihuly's acrylic light painting

Lumière Exhibition
The art gallery was holding an exhibition of Chihuly's sculptures and acrylic light drawings. This time, the light paintings caught my particular attention. My favourites used a mixture of extremely bright colours. The exhibition was entitled Lumière after the French word for "light". Lumière also conjures up the Age of Enlightenment in French philosophy and the early French filmmakers, the Lumière brothers. Thus, the title conveys both light and a sense of groundbreaking vision.

I later discovered from an online video how the pictures and sculptures were made. The acrylic paintings are lit from behind in light boxes as well as from the front. This light adds even greater intensity to the colours.

I was surprised to learn that Chihuly works with a glassblowing team. The glassblowers bring the creative vision into being under his enthusiastic supervision. There is no doubt that Chihuly is the innovator and visionary.

Such abstract designs and bright colours may not be to everyone's taste. It can take some time to adjust and appreciate the creativity. Historically, the work of master artists and great innovators has not always been appreciated in their lifetime. Chihuly is certainly a unique artist.

Lumière is a very appropriate title for this exhibition for 3 reasons:
1. It uses light creatively
2. It is the work of a leading and groundbreaking artistic "light"


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