The contemporary artist, Olafur Eliasson, born in Copenhagen in 1967, is a master of creating extraordinary aesthetic experiences. His art installations, normally of monumental scale, incorporate elements such as light water, optical effects and even ambient temperature to create sensory games that directly involve the viewer.
Eliasson's specialties are big public gestures. Most of his works, or at least the most famous, are installations where architecture and artistic sensibility find a meeting point. These "gestures" are usually temporary situations, immersive, almost theatrical, where the viewer is either overwhelmed by the experience or must remain still and quiet, to get a glimpse of the spectacle that unfolds before your eyes almost imperceptibly.
Some of his most famous art installations are the waterfalls of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York or the simulation of the inner solar system in the turbine hall of the Tate Modern. Another, of a permanent nature but framed within his taste for grand gestures related to architecture, is the facadeof Harpa, or rather the ambiguous visual artefact, made in collaboration with Henning Larsen Architects. In either case, Eliasson expresses a creative freedom that few artists have the good fortune to defend. In an interview with Hans-Ulrich Obrist in 2007, Eliasson makes it clear that the most important to him in relation to his art, is that “we remain free to choose the format we want to work in artistically." From this arises his interest in creating projects that can literally "live out in the real world."
But Eliasson’s installations could also be defined as art that baffles and even fools. Many of his pieces are interruptions of time, which seems to be dissolved or prolonged. Some also seem to pursue provoking disorientation in the viewer, exposing him to a place where the geometry and normal orientation of objects are perturbed.
Another interesting aspect of Eliasson's work is its lack of mystery. Regardless of the situations that he creates, items that produce them are usually at plain sight of the viewer. The artist likes to publicize the gadget’s mechanism, possibly to make them look less flashy, blunter. It's almost as fascinating to observe the mechanism, wheels and rims boards and banal materials, than the installation itself. As for its conceptual background, the complacent and colourful art of Eliasson does not lack some political potential. But this potential is manifested through an artistic activism that is based and rejoices on a policy of enchantment, that provokes the viewer and encourages sensory and intellectual stimulation.
Currently, Eliasson's works is being exhibited in "Light Show" in the Southbank Center in London.
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