Studio visits and commissions from visionary talents, with insider coverage of the art calendar’s premier events

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September 23, 2014

James Turrell: Gathered Sky

The Preeminent Artist Restores Light in a Beijing Qing Dynasty Temple

An introspective James Turrell invites you to surrender under the immateriality of light with “Gathered Sky,” a spellbinding permanent installation in Beijing’s Temple Hotel. Three decades after turning the Roden Crater, an extinct volcano in Arizona, into a celestial work of art that was recently exhibited at the Guggenheim and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the American artist walks through the making of his first-ever commission in China. “Light is intangible, so I thought it was the perfect theme for a former Buddhist temple,” says Belgian entrepreneur Juan van Wassenhove, who founded the hotel with film producers-turned-hoteliers Li Chow and Lin Fan. “I have seen it touch people's emotions in a profound way.” Rejecting art’s obsession with the object or the image, Turrell’s work brings the sky to human reach, while the interplay of artificial light acts as an optical hallucinogenic. An avid collector of contemporary art, Van Wassenhove hopes for the 600-year-old space to become “a living museum,” with “Gathered Sky” currently joined by an exhibition of Robert Doisneau photographs. As for what he’d like one of the artist’s few works open to the public to evoke in visitors? “Calm, tranquility, a slower pace of life and extraordinary beauty.”

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Christian Jankowski: Heavy Weight History

The Conceptual Artist Heads to Poland to Create a Monumental New Film

Christian Jankowski came to prominence with thought-provoking work that satirizes reality TV and the media. His latest exhibition, Heavy Weight History, at Lisson Gallery in London, is an installation of photographs and a 30-minute film that documents a group of Polish weightlifters attempting to lift public monuments in Warsaw. In this excerpt from the short, the Berlin-based Jankowski captures a famous Polish TV sports commentator following the sportsmen as they attempt to raise five individual sculptures. There is a political aspect here, touching on communism, masculinity and Poland’s self-image. “Warsaw was a city completely destroyed after the war. It had to find a new identity; maybe that was partly through sculpture,” says the German artist, whose performance pieces have included Art Market TV, in which a man sells artworks at a fair in the style of a home shopping channel presenter. Appropriately, Heavy Weight History also comments on how our view of the past is formed. “When you tell history, you can only have so many sentences. If you repeat and repeat the same perspective it becomes more concrete, not dynamic,” says Jankowski of the curious and often accidentally humorous project. “A good joke connects thoughts that come as a surprise.”

Heavy Weight History runs from January 31 to March 8 at Lisson gallery, London

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The Foundry

Step Inside the Workshop Favored by the Art World’s Most Venerated Sculptors

When on the hunt for bronze, lead or stainless steel for one of their large-scale creations, Gavin Turk, Anish Kapoor and Marc Quinn turn to the southeast London specialist AB Fine Art Foundry. “We are facilitators and custodians of a craft that is thousands of years old,” says manager Jerry Hughes. “It needs to be kept and passed on. Most of our staff have been to art college. They empathize and are passionate about what they do.” The industrious premises of the respected craftsmen are documented here by French photographer Franck Sauvaire. Taking a tour of the foundry, he uncovered pots and pans flowing with molten wax, as well as objects being covered in yellow silica to be burned at 1000 degrees. A nearly-completed sculpture by Jake and Dinos Chapman, “The same thing only smaller, or the same size but a long way away”, sits in one corner while a segment of Bill Woodrow’s “Sitting on History” is waiting to go into the kiln. All around, men and women in protective boiler suits strive to help create objects of wonder. According to Hughes, the Cuban artist Yoan Capote recently went to a Gavin Turk show and the first thing he thought was, “I want to know where this work was made.” The answer: the magic happened here.

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