The fugacity of light is the conducting wire of the twentieth-sixth edition of Roesler Hotel, Galeria Nara Roesler’s exhibitions project that invites prominent Brazilian and foreign curators. Curated by art historian Matthieu Poirier, the show Spectres (Spectrums) will open on April 1st and will present nearly 20 works by artists such as James Turrell and Julio Le Parc.

The show features sculptures, installations, paintings and abstract photographs that use the resource of light and reinforce its fugacity by means of the oscillation between appearance and disappearance. This alternation between light and dark, and the resulting projection of shadows, is what gives these works, which are from various periods and artistic movements, a spectral and ghostly aura.

Besides Turrell and Le Parc, Dan Flavin, Ann Veronica Janssens, Larry Bell and Hiroshi Sugimoto are among the renowned artists selected by the curator, whose research on the use of light in art and its influence on the senses enabled him to participate in major exhibitions, such as Dynamo – Un siècle de lumière et de mouvement 1913- 2013 (Grand Palais, 2013), in which he worked as cocurator and had Serge Lemoine as chief-curator; and Julio Le Parc’s solo show, Soleil froid (Palais de Tokyo, 2013), to which he was scientific advisor. Both were held last year in Paris.

In this show, Poirier questions the nature of abstraction – when understood as the death of the figure – through light, which has the power to create visual materiality and presence, as well as to conceal them. In his words, “light is no longer seen as a tool to understand or ‘to make sense.’ Instead, light dissolves reality, expanding the limits of sight.”

The spectral character of the objects is not in the full disappearance, but in the tension that exists in the “twinkling between visible and not visible, the constant fluctuation between the life and the death of appearances.” Thus, Poirier defines perceptual art – which emerges from the senses – as the art produced as a result of visual perception, as opposed to conceptual art, which is firstly originated in the realm of reason and thought.

Some of the highlights

By Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, the gallery presents the B&W photographs Lightning fields 167 and 168 (2009), Fox, Michigan (1980) and Avalon Theatre, Catalina Island (1993). The two first ones are part of a series of images produced through electrical discharges on photographic film and whose result is similar to a lightning – as suggested in the title itself. As for the two last ones, they result from over one hour of exposure to light and portray movie theaters whose architecture is extravagant. The smaller version of Avalon Theatre, Catalina Island (1993) is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection.

In his works, minimalist forerunner Dan Flavin follows the proposal of bringing to the exhibition space the creation of “situations,” with architectural re-definition by means of light and color.

James Turrell, another American pioneer, is represented in the show by his research on the sensorial limits in the use of light with works whose volumes are produced through monochromatic luminous nuances.

The relativity of colors in relation to where the spectator stands is explored by the British artist who lives in Brussels artist Ann Veronica Janssens in her work Blue, red and yellow (2001). This large-scale installation takes on each one of the colors in the title according to the angle from which it is seen. The other artists are Bettina Samson, William Klein, Pierre Huygue, Gary Fabian Miller, Isabelle Cornaro, Blair Thurman and the brothers Florian & Michael Quistrebert.

Matthieu Poirier

French researcher and curator with a PhD in Art History from the University of Sorbonne (Paris IV), he is a guest researcher at the German Center for Art History in Paris and develops studies on art and light. He was co-curator at the Grand Palais show Dynamo – Un siècle de lumière et de mouvement 1913-2013, whose chief-curator was Serge Lemoine. He was also scientific advisor to Julio Le Parc’s retrospective show, Soleil froid, at the Palais de Tokyo (2013). He is a professor at the Paris-Sorbonne University, at the École régionale des Beaux Arts, in Rouen, and at the École européenne supérieure de l’image, in Angoulême, and also writes to different magazines, such as Der Spiegel and Le Quotidien de L’Art.