The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal is currently showing the work of Tacoma, Washington-native glass artist Dale Chihuly (b. 1941) and his elaborate, colourful, and exquisite glass shapes, chandeliers, towers, and gardens.
The tour begins with the idyllic forest of Turquoise Reeds (2012), 199 of spear-shaped forms springing from the trunks of salvaged old- growth western red cedar. The wooden logs evoke the West Coast landscape which serves as a vast source of inspiration to the the Seattle-based artist.
The Macchia Forrest (1981) led Chihuly to work with the full range of the 300 colours of glass produced by the German company Kugler. These sculptural bowls are characterized by their undulating sides and rims, the result of gravity, and by their large formats (a metre high and a metre wide).
The effect of the colourful bowls is quite powerful, making it seem as if one stepped into an enchanted forrest, something out of Alice in Wonderland.
Glass Forest #6 (2012) presents light sources and glass which are the basic elements of the works and environments Chihuly creates with neon. The piece is made of blown white glass filled with argon gas and neon, which produces the shades of pink. The ethereal silhouettes looming up in the darkness create a breathtakingly eerie effect. Displayed on top of a glass surface they shapes resemble a swan lake.
The Boats (2012) were added to Chihuly’s repertory of installations in 1995, when the artist and his team were in Finland making the chandeliers for the Venice show. One day, on an impulse, Chihuly threw some pieces of glass into the river. The artist now regularly presents old boats floating on pools of water in gardens or incorporates them into the environments he dreams up for museums.
The colours and shapes have a very primal appeal and trigger childhood memories of candy, toys, and shapes, as well as bright colours. This visual sensation awakens our perceptive sensors and activates comforting and happy emotions.
Mille Fiori (2012) stands some two and a half metres high and may be viewed from numerous angles. With its arrangements of irregular shapes and sumptuous colours, this installation looks like an enchanted garden. Since his early childhood, Chihuly has loved flowers, a passion he attributes to his mother’s delight in gardening and gardens.
Chandeliers and Tower (1997) with their bristling contours are achievements in formal terms, combining blown glass with steel frameworks each weighing several hundred kilograms. Their configurations complement each other, resembling stalagmites and stalactites in caves.
The final and most inspiring exhibition room houses the Persian Ceiling (2008), one of Chihuly’s most popular works. It consists of various series of works in a multitude of shapes, forms, and vivid colours arranged in layers over plates of transparent glass. Subtly lit, the Ceiling creates a kaleidoscopic effect of infinite repetition, suggesting the magical space of a Persian carpet.
The shell, urchin, and jelly fish shapes also resemble the ocean and Ariel’s magical world “under the sea“!
Lange cushions allow the visitors to lie down on the floor to fully appreciate its beauty and the kaleidoscopic light effects on the walls!
The peristyle colonnade at the top of the Hornstein Pavilion’s majestic staircase was transformed into the Persian Colonnade (2008), taking us into the artist’s colourful world of flowers.
This enchanted world will remain on display in Montréal until October 20, 2013. Don’t miss it!