Robert Irwin’s new work is currently on show at Pace Gallery, London, for the first time. Running until 17 August, the exhibition documents Irwin’s involvement in the Light and Space movement during the 1960s in Southern California. Leading the movement, the artist began to use ideas from philosophical inquiries into the nature of human experience and radical advances in perceptual psychology and unite them with the immersive abstraction that been demonstrated by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. The concluding art was an innovative approach that replaced object with phenomenon. Uninterested in traditional restrictive forms of art, Irwin was the first to make objects and installations that were purely designed to manipulate the light in front of or around the viewer.
Featured within the exhibition are two new site-specific installations displayed on the gallery’s ground and first floors. Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow & Blue³ III, occupies the entire space of the ground floor of the gallery and presents three aluminium black and coloured panels suspended from the ceiling that mirror three identical panels hovering over the floor, suspending the viewer in a real time-space experience. This installation is a reiteration of the ideas explored by Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue³ presented at Primaries and Secondaries, a major retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2007–2008). Irwin’s aim to focus his investigations onto a three-dimensional space is evident in this work and ultimately presents 4-dimensional space-time as the viewer enters the installation and experiences it through time.
Piccadilly, installed on the first floor of the gallery, experiments with the perceptual qualities of light, playing with rhythm, texture, densities, temperature, and chromatic relationships. Made of 47 green and white flourescent tubes mounted in vertical groupings, it is a clear reference to London’s illuminated road junction at Piccadilly Circus. Unlike some of his other works that use fluorescent lights and include changes of colour and rhythm, the light source of these sculptures will keep the same state for the duration of the exhibition.
The exhibition references how Irwin’s work respond to specific circumstances and conditions of the project space where the pieces are produced. Consequently his practice does not exist in a detached space but in an active and immersive space within reality.
Robert Irwin, until 17 August, Pace Gallery, 6 Burlington Gardens, London W1S 3ET.
1. Robert Irwin, Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow & Blue³ III © 2012 Robert Irwin. Photograph © 2013 Philipp Stolz Rittermann.