Much as a whisper has more power and persuasion than a shout, so lies the appeal of Olafur Eliasson’s work. It makes you hush up, lean in and really look. It quiets and enlivens you simultaneously. It heightens your awareness both mentally and physically with a heady dose of artificial and organic stimuli. The primal becomes cerebral and vice versa.Next month the San Francisco Museum or Modern Art (SFMOMA) retrospective on the 15 years of Eliasson’s career will move on to its next venue, but it reiterates what we all know by now: here is one of the most moving and articulate artists of our day. An exceptional show, Take Your Time
amasses an impressively wide range of Eliasson’s work—photography, prints, sculpture, environments as well as new site-specific works.
Elemental and sophisticated, Eliasson’s work manipulates water, light, temperature and visibility with saturated color filters and mirrored reflections and refractions. Multiple Grotto is a freestanding sculpture with a kaleidoscopic interior that allows every visitor who steps inside to become an active participant in the work, if only for a finite period of time. Beauty is a fragmented rainbow that appears and disappears depending on one’s location. Created by shining a prism into the mist that fills the entire room, it is a poignant reminder of how one step forward or one step back can so easily alter one’s perception.
Photo credit: Beauty, installation view at SFMOMA on the occasion of Take your time: Olafur Eliasson; photo: Ian Reeves, courtesy SFMOMA; (c) 2007 Olafur Eliasson