The natural environment and related phenomena, particularly that of Denmark and Iceland, have long influenced Ólafur Eliasson’s practice. His sculptures and installations investigate perception, illusion, and experience—often in ways that draw attention to the allure of our surroundings. Here, panes of carefully tinted, hand-blown glass rest upon a ledge of reclaimed driftwood, their layered hues meant to evoke the ethereal colors of the sky at dusk. The overlapping ellipses at the work’s center provide a philosophical and visual echo, suggesting a sunset, moonrise, or eclipse. Eliasson leaves the depth and construction of glass layers evident when seen from the side. The viewer’s focus oscillates between optical phenomena and the objects that produce them—the immaterial and material —highlighting the illusory nature of the piece. As a result, Imaginary dusk colours suggests the impossibility of replacing the sublime beauty of nature, even as one attempts to replicate it.
Imaginary dusk colour, 2018; driftwood, colored glass; courtesy of the McEvoy Family Collection, San Francisco
Ólafur Eliasson explores and redefines the cognitive and cultural conditions that inform our perception. Described by the artist as “devices for the experience of reality,” his works and projects prompt a greater sense of awareness about the way we engage with and interpret the world. In addition to exhibiting at galleries and major museums around the globe, he uses his practice to engage the broader public sphere through architectural projects, interventions in civic space, arts education, policy-making, and issues of sustainability and climate change.