James Turrell: Orca (Blue and Red)


4568 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, MO   63110

projects+exhibitions is currently closed for the season.

Barrett Barrera Projects is pleased to announce the installation of James Turrell’s Orca (Blue and Red) at projects+exhibitions (4568 Manchester Avenue, St. Louis, MO), opening to the public March 13, 2021.

Artist James Turrell developed his Projection Pieces series in the late 1960s, pushing the historical artistic fascination with rendering light to its ultimate formalist distillation. Using the physical confines of the space his work inhabits, Orca (Blue and Red), 1969, is an exquisite example of Turrell’s endeavor, accomplishing a tangible void in which light is not the means to seeing, but the end. The walls become an illusionistic canvas simultaneously materialized and negated by the humming intensity of the cobalt blue and cherry red planes of light. A single vertical line of darkness divides the two primary colors, creating what Turrell has referred to as “the sensing space,” a metaphysical fissure that recalls the aesthetic and existential tone of Barnett Newman’s zip paintings. With no object in the experience of this environment to focus on, Turrell encourages the viewer to enjoy a moment of complete contemplation and to self-consciously engage in the revelation of the present. Here there is no metaphor, no imposed narrative or iconography, but rather the focused perception and formation of reality. Within Turrell’s series, four versions of Orca exist in blue, red, and white, with the present work being the only one to combine two colors.

Beginning his art career in the 1960s, Turrell’s work is primarily an exploration of light and space. By making light the subject of the revelation, his work challenges the very nature of how and what is perceived and, in particular, how what is perceived affects and forms the reality lived. One part meditative and another confounding, Turrell’s works heighten the viewer’s very sense of seeing and places the viewer in a realm of experience.

Turrell’s work has been exhibited in art institutions across the world, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; the Israel Museum in Jerusalem; the Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg; the National Gallery of Art in Canberra; and the Long Museum in Shanghai. Turrell is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1984) and the National Medal of Arts (2013).