Olafur Eliasson brings a glorious, mind-altering display to the Tate Modern, the scene of his past triumphs.
You may not know the name Olafur Eliasson that well, but you certainly know his work. It all began in 2003, in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, when the artist made a sunny entrance to the public consciousness with ‘The Weather Project’ – a combination of yellow lamps, mirrors, and mist which gave the impression of the sun hanging over the hall. And now, he’s back with a stunning career retrospective until January 2020.
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The Weather Project remains one of Turbine Hall’s most beloved installations, and launched a very fruitful union between Eliasson and Tate Modern. He was back last year, to display giant blocks of melting polar ice outside in order to call attention to the frightening rate of global warming.
Impressive indeed, but Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life is the full retrospective Eliasson’s talents deserve, and it doesn’t disappoint. A combination of older, renowned works and recent creations portray the full arc of the artist’s career, with delights found in every room. Amongst the early highlights is ‘Moss wall’, a gargantuan 60-metre wide curtain of reindeer moss that results in the most impressive wall hanging you’ve ever seen.
Before long, you’ll find yourself amongst the buzziest arrivals. First up is ‘Beauty’, a truly incredible artwork in which a fine mist of rain is lit with a spotlight, creating the beautiful illusion of an indoor rainbow. Tiny water droplets fall like poured silk, glittering with a gorgeous array of colours that make it near-impossible to drag yourself away.
The reward for doing so, however, is ‘Din blinde passager’ (Your blind passenger). Describing it as “a room full of fog” is deceptively simple – though true – for the artwork gloriously, gleefully messes with your head. Moving through a 39-metre room where you can see barely a metre beyond your own nose is unsettling enough, but when the room slowly turns a deep shade of yellow, or takes on a vibrant purple hue, you’ll find your senses joyously scrambled. (Do try not to crash into anyone though.)
Other mind-bending installations include ‘Your spiral view’, a kaleidoscopic tunnel you can walk through, and the eponymous ‘In real life’, which throws shards of colourful light across the gallery. Colour also plays a central role in ‘Your uncertain shadow’, which invites you to pose and throw multicoloured shadows over the walls.
And whilst the art will nourish your soul, Eliasson also plans to nourish your body, as he’ll create a menu for the Tate’s Terrace Bar, inspired by the ethical, organic meals cooked in his Berlin studio. It’s not just food for thought at this show, you know.
It all makes for a seriously accomplished show, one which begins before you even enter the exhibit proper. Eliasson’s ‘Room for one colour’ – another work which aims to bend one’s perception – throws a yellow hue over the foyer, whilst an impressive man-made waterfall now stands outside the gallery itself. Themes of environmentalism and being aware of one’s place in the world run through Eliasson’s career, and it’s no exaggeration to say they find their most perfect expression amongst these powerful, perception-upending works.
Location: Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG. Nearest stations are Southwark and London Bridge. See it on Google Maps.
Opening hours: Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life will run until January 5, 2020. Gallery hours are 10am-6pm (Sun – Thu) and 10am-10pm (Fri – Sat).
Prices: adult tickets are £18, or free for Tate members. The Tate strongly encourages advance booking, and tickets are on sale now.
More information: can be found here.
Also published on Medium.