A mindblowing exhibition by one of the world’s leading contemporary artists at a Chaoyang art gallery offers a chance for even the youngest kids to be dazzled by the power of art.
Olafur Eliasson, born in Denmark to an Icelandic family, was once a champion breakdancer, but now uses light, shadow, and water to create extraordinary, immersive installations. His exhibition at the Red Brick Art Museum is called The unspeakable openness of things, and brings together works from the last decade with a new creation especially for this show.
Tickets cost a hefty RMB 120 for adults (RMB 160 on holidays, RMB 90 for children), but kids under 1.2m are free. Once inside you’re greeted by the mesmerizing title piece of the exhibition. “The unspeakable openness of things” is a huge semi-circle of light. A mirrored ceiling completes the circle, and makes the space seem vast. Looking up to your distant, upside-down reflection, illuminated by the orange glow of something resembling a planetary ring, is a dizzying experience.
Mirrors also create a sense of space in “Map for unthought thoughts”, where patterns of shadows form a lattice against which the visitors’ own shadows become monstrously huge as they approach the light source. Hold onto your little ones though – I saw one disoriented toddler run straight into the mirror, thinking it was the other half of the room.
“Rainbow Assembly” is a fine mist of water which visitors can walk through, seeing rainbows from both inside and outside the circle. And be prepared to get wet too at “Water pendulum,” one of the simplest but most striking works. In a darkened room, a hose spurts water, the flow causing it to sway erratically. A strobe light flashes to capture the patterns of the falling water. At first we held back respectfully, but then realized the visitor is welcome to enter the work, and dance with the droplets.
It can be hard to get kids excited about visiting an art gallery to stare at oil paintings, but this is one exhibition where children can become part of the art, and share the wonder with their parents.
The unspeakable openness of things, Mar 25-Aug 12 2018
All ages. RMB 120 (adults), RMB 90 (children), free under 1.2m. 10am-5.30pm Tues-Sun (last entry 5pm). Red Brick Art Museum, Shunbailu, Hegezhuang Village, Cuigezhuang Township, Chaoyang District. 朝阳区中国北京市朝阳区崔各庄乡何各庄村. (Tel: +86 10 84576669 – 8800, E-mail: email@example.com).
Photos: Uni You, except Rainbow Assembly, Water Pendulum, by Andrew Killeen