Highlights of TATE Collection, read through ‘light’ Light is a measure of all things. We perceive time and space as well as the shape and color of things by light, and are also affected emotionally by changes in weather or the atmosphere of space according to light. Light is essential to our perception of the world and always exists by our side, but it is also a temporary and uncontrollable object. Artists fascinated by contradictory and diverse attributes of light have presented works of art with innovative techniques, ranging from oil paintings, sculptures, and immersive installations to capture the phenomenon of light. The spectrum of light, which has been refracted in numerous ways through the prism of art, can now be experienced at Buk-Seoul Museum of Art. Light: Works from Tate Collection, co-organized by Seoul Museum of Art and TATE showcase 110 works by 43 artists who have been exploring light for the past 200 years. ©Nam June Paik Estate. Photo by Nam June Paik Art Center The introduction of the exhibition begins with Nam June Paik‘s “Candle TV,” which consists of candles and iron TV cases. Candlelight means the beginning of human civilization and old media, TV means today’s digital civilization and new media, and Candle TV comprehensively presents the spectrum of “light” and various artistic achievements that have developed with human history. In the next 16 sections, you can experience world-class works that have explored light using various media from the 18th century to the same time, including William Blake, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Claude Monet, Wassily Kandinsky, Yayoi Kusama, Olafur Eliasson, Philippe Parreno, and James Turrell. Light of Nature -Turner, Monet All 43 artists have marked a milestone in the history of art, but among them, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) is the most beloved national painter of the British people, becoming the new protagonist of the 20 pound bill. He spent an unfortunate childhood with a barber father and a distraught mother, but devoted to his son, who entered the Royal Academy at the age of 14, became a regular member of the Academy at the age of 27, and became a professor of perspective at the Royal Academy at the age of 32. In this exhibition, you can enjoy as many as 14 Turner’s works as a professor, including lecture designs that studied light and landscape paintings that show the highlights of romantic paintings. Joseph Mallord William Turner, (left) Light and Colour (Goethe’s Theory) – the Morning after the Deluge – Moses Writing the Book of Genesis / (right) Shade and Darkness – the Evening of the Deluge, Courtesy Seoul Museum of Art. Photo by Sangtae Kim Works that show Turner’s characteristics well are “Shade and Darkness- the Evening of the Deluge” and “Light and Color (Goethe’s Theory)- the Morning after the Deluge – Moses Writing the Book of Genesis.” “Deluge” is a traditionally drawn theme, but it is innovative in terms of expression in that it emphasizes color rather than form and expresses subtle color expressions in detail. Turner was influenced by Goethe’s theory of color, and Goethe said that yellow colors contained light, brightness, strength, warmth, and blue colors contained darkness, weakness, and coldness. According to Goethe’s theory of color, Turner described the confusion and darkness of the Deluge in blue in The Evening of the Deluge, and the hopeful scene of Moses writing Genesis in yellow in The Morning After the Great Flood. Turner’s style of painting, which focused more on the color effect of light than form, emphasizes only the atmosphere and color of the landscape, predicting Monet’s impressionist style and the abstract expressionist style of the 20th century after Monet. Poplars on the Epte (Les Peupliers au bord de l’Epte), Claude Monet, ©Tate Images In fact, Claude Monet (1840–1926), who went to London to escape the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, learned the expression of light and color under the influence of landscape painters John Constable and William Turner in England. Monet said, “To me, the landscape does not exist in itself. This is because light changes the landscape every moment. The landscape is revived by the changing surrounding atmosphere, air, and light.” Afterwards, Monet produced various series to capture the ever-changing effects of light on the canvas. Among the series of haystacks, water lilies, poplar, and the Seine, Monet painted a series of poplar trees along the Ept River near Giverny in the 1890s. In 1891, Monet captured the instantaneous effects of light and painted “Poplars on the Epte” (1891), but in fact, only seven minutes of the day could be worked under the same light conditions, so he had to work repeatedly for months to complete the work. The Poplar series has a total of 23 pieces, and Monet presented the entire series in one exhibition and achieved great success. Thanks to this, Monet was able to raise seed money to purchase the land that would become Giverny’s garden, which later gave birth to a series of training works. Indoor Light -Parreno, Hammershøi When the light outside the window illuminates the room, we measure the time by the length of the shadow. French artist Philippe Parreno (1964-) and Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864–1916) are artists who well embody the effects of light shining indoors with installations and paintings, respectively. Parreno’s 6 p.m. is an eye trick work that elaborately embodies the light reflected on the indoor floor. He designed a shadow image of a window hanging on the floor around 6 p.m., and cut and fitted the windows and the flesh of the window with carpets of different colors. The elaborately produced window shadow-shaped carpet actually looks like a shadow hanging indoors, so visitors often look around windows that do not actually exist. Through a work that seems to have frozen a particular time in space, which is bound to be instantaneous, the artist reminds us that time as well as space also affects our visibility. Hammershøi’s “Indoor, Sunlight on the Floor” is a work that makes you feel like you have moved Parreno’s work to a canvas. He drew a scene where sunlight came through the window and poured on the floor in a room with little furniture. Like impressionist painters, Hammershøi recorded subtle changes in light and weather by drawing the same room several times in different time zones. Artificial Light -Turrell, Eliasson Stardust Particle, Olafur Eliasson, Courtesy Seoul Museum of Art. Photo by Sangtae Kim If the aforementioned artists tried to embody natural light in their works, after artificial lighting was used by Thomas Edison in 1789, artists began to explore the aesthetic possibilities of artificial light using light itself as a material for their works. ”Raemar, Blue” by James Turrell (1943–) enables an immersive experience of recognizing light in LED lighting and architectural space. Under the influence of his parents, who were devout Quaker believers, he received strict education that emphasized mental training and silence, and studied aviation, astronomy, and perceptual psychology with interest. The characteristic of Turrell’s work is that despite using artificial light as a major medium, viewers enjoy meditation and contemplation while observing the sky and light, and through that time, they experience a “travel to light” facing the spiritual light inside. Olafur Eliasson (1967–), one of the most popular artists in the contemporary art world. He communicates with visitors through non-material effects such as light, shadow, color, and movement. His work, which artificially reproduces the vast nature and talks about the universe, the world, and philosophy, is completed through the audience’s “experience.” His representative work, Space Dust Particles, is surrounded by a polyhedron made of large spherical polyhedrons made of glass that partially reflects. The structure appears to have enlarged the space dust particles left by the explosion of a celestial body. The giant sphere, which hangs on the motor and spins slowly, spills a certain shape of reflective light in the surrounding space like a sparkling mirror ball. His work, which combines mathematics, science, engineering, and architecture with art, brings enormous nature into the museum without hesitation, and gives the audience an intense and amazing experience. Raemar, Blue, James Turrell, Courtesy Seoul Museum of Art. Photo by Sangtae Kim As we have seen, the Light: Works from Tate Collection shows various attempts by artists about light and is an attractive exhibition that reads hundreds of years of Western art history under the keyword “light.” The Light Special Exhibition, which has been held in Seoul for the second time since its debut at the Pudong Museum in Shanghai, China in 2021, is a world-class blockbuster exhibition that has since toured Australia and Japan six times. You can take a look around the “Light Exhibition” until May 8 at the Buk-Seoul Museum of Art. About the Light: Works from Tate Collection Duration: December 21, 2021 ~ May 8, 2022 (closes every Monday) Location: 1238, Dongil-ro, Nowon-gu, Seoul, Korea, 01783 Webpage: www.tatelight.kr Inquiry: 070-8691-1883 This article was written and contributed by Oh Yeon-seo, curator of Seoul Museum of Art.