LIGHT, Or Not Magazine – Introduction
by Alessandro Trabucco
In this section we present Italian and international artists whose research focuses on light.
It is not exclusively dedicated to light art in the strict sense, intended as an artistic movement, well defined and closed up in a restricted area of interest with precise stylistic rules. It rather analyses those artists whose work concentrates on light, which is not only subject and main part of their works, but also a metaphorical and symbolic visual reference point.
When it comes to light art, the artist uses light as if it were some raw material to be moulded, like the painter who applies paint on the canvas. In the second case, light is represented as a subject, regardless of the technique used by the artist.
We use following guidelines to select the works we then publish: respect of the very nature of this form of pure energy and technological modernity of the language.
From the golden base layers of the Byzantine icons, to the postimpressionists’ colour decomposition, through the strong symbolism of light in the seventeenth-century painting, up to the objective reality in some paintings by artists at later dates influenced by Caravaggio (from Georges De La Tour to Joseph Wright of Derby, just to mention two examples): light is the protagonist of this section, though reinterpreted from our century’s perspective, that is with a dynamic, technological and modern approach.
In the first photographic experimentation dating back to the early decades of the twentieth century light was intended as a way of direct writing on a paper covered with photosensitive emulsion. This process used to take place in the darkroom without any mechanical equipment. With the artistic experiences since the 1950s and thanks to new technologies and scientific discoveries, light has become the sole protagonist in some extraordinary works created by artists who were able to go beyond the line between what is tangible and what is incorporeal.
The Californian group Light and Space, active since the mid-60s up to the following decade, includes Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Dewain Valentine, Doug Wheeler among its most influential representatives. In the same years the Italian Piero Fogliati, native of Turin, does his most important experiments on optics, visual perception and incorporeality. Olafur Eliasson is another European leading figure of light art among new generations.
Photography and installation are the most representative media and they are going to play a fundamental role in this section, being the ultimate language and the most powerful and direct mean to our purposes.
Making an incisive choice and taking a sharp position when offering a very specific point of view involves the responsibility to carry out an extensive and, at the same time, rigorous research, with clarity and perspective and without any detour or deviation. This means setting a series of reference points, which we intend to show you along the way. Enjoy your reading.
1. Georges de la Tour – Mary Magdalene with a night light, 1630-35
2. Joseph Wright of Derby – An Iron Forge 1772
3. Robert Irwin’s “Untitled” (Sphere) at Albright Knox in Buffalo, New York
4. James Turrell – Dhatu_2010
5. Dewain Valentine, Rainbow ring, 1972
6. Doug Wheeler – Untitled 1969 sprayed lacquer on acrylic with neon tubing – 91 1/2 x 91 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches 232.4 x 232.4 x 19.1 cm
7. Piero Fogliati, Prisma Meccanico (1967) 1989
8. Olafur Eliasson – The weather project, 2003