Olafur Eliasson – Nothingness Is Not Nothing At All

Olafur Eliasson is an artist of many medias, including installation, painting, photography and film. He lives and works between Copenhagen and Berlin, having been raised between Iceland and Denmark, before studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, before moving to Berlin to set up his studio. Over the past few years, his works have been shown at the MoMA, Tate Modern and Venice Biennale with huge success, and brings people from all over the world who want to experience his interest in perception, movement, and feelings of self. At end of March, a career-spanning exhibition entitled ‘Nothingness is not nothing at all’ opened at the Long Museum in Shanghai, bringing together an array of his work. The work on show extends over so many mediums, and even includes pieces created especially for the exhibition –  most notably, the grandiose ‘The Open Pyramid’.

Olafur_Elisson_1The Open Pyramid, 2016

Olafur_Elisson_2Still River, 2016

Eliasson wanted to encourage visitors to actively engage with the pieces on display, and detach from their everyday surroundings

‘I wanted to amplify the feeling of the cavernous museum galleries by installing artworks that invite visitors to look inwards, to question how their senses work, and dream up utopias for everyday life.’  

Taking inspiration from the design of the museum itself (built by Chinese architecture firm Atelier Deshaus), the artwork featured uses geometric principles to utilities the space they occupy, carving up areas and avenues for people to interact in.

Working perfectly in partnership with the science in maths involved in the exhibition creation and display, a lot of the works feature elemental materials such as stone, ice and light. Taking from Olafur’s scientific mind, there is the careful use and balance of optical devices, mirrors and glass that change the viewers’ visual perception and almost allows them to become a part of the artwork itself by influencing the outcome through light and space interaction. Although the body of work is large and very varied, there are the similarly underlying themes of imagination, dreaming and perception, and it is this which allows viewers to get within the artist’s mind and literally become part of his work.

Olafur_Elisson_3The Open Pyramid, 2016

Olafur_Elisson_4Happiness, 2011

Olafur_Elisson_5Camera Obscura, 1999

It is this ability to be permitted to interact with the artwork which has made Olafur Eliasson such a popular artist. His exhibitions encourage people to actually participate in the artwork (when you are usually met by signs prohibiting any kind of interaction), also using common themes of explored in life, but in a new and interesting light. 

Olafur_Elisson_6Installation View

Olafur_Elisson_7Your Disappearing Garden, 2011

Olafur_Elisson_8Seeing Plants, 2003

The exhibition at the Long Museum in Shanghai will be on display until 19th June 2016, so if you are in the area, or planning a trip to China, we highly advise a visit so you can experience the works’ wonders for yourself. Studio Olafur Eliasson (now a team of about 90 strong) is constantly testing and producing new artworks, and we always look forward to seeing what comes out of the doors next.

Photos courtesy of Studio Olafur Eliasson