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Design Miami

Galerie Maria Wettergren’s latest exhibition explores the dynamic, emotive nature of light

“In Scandinavia,” Danish-born gallerist Maria Wettergren posits, “there seems to be a fundamental interest in light—possibly arising from its relative rarity.” She goes on to cite examples of Danish artists and designers who uniquely exploited the qualities of light, from Wilhelm Hammershøi to Poul Henningsen and Olafur Eliasson. The latest exhibition at Wettergren’s Parisian gallery builds on this historical foundation, presenting the light-inspired work of contemporary young talents who hail from the light-deprived latitudes of Europe.

Illimited by Astrid Krogh, 2019. Photo © Galerie Maria Wettergren

Among the works presented in RADIANT: Light and (e)Motion is Danish artist Astrid Krogh’s Illimited (2019), a light sculpture crafted from delicate optic fibers to evoke the universe of stars that shine down on us from light-years away. “Different light constellations appear and disappear in a slow pace, making the ‘universe’ appear to ‘breath’ like a starry sky,” according to Wettergren.

RADIANT: Light and (e)Motion at Galerie Maria Wettergren, featuring work by Grethe Søorensen, Astrid Krogh, and Ane Lykke. Photo © Gregory Copitet; Courtesy of Galerie Maria Wettergren

Representing a more earthbound perspective, Krogh’s My Golden Horizon (2017-2020) is composed of thin sheets of beaten gold, pleated to maximize the reflection of ambient light, a nod to humanity’s eternal attraction to shiny things. Wettergren further explains: “Krogh’s gold-leaf wall piece relies on shadow and light to determine the intensity of each tone; the golden folds form an ethereal composition, echoing the aura and warmth of a striking sunset.”

Moselle by Ilkka Suppanen, 2019. Photo © Galerie Maria Wettergren

Experimentation with materials and processes are key to the light effects achieved by the artists in the show. “In her glowing wall sculpture Light Object—exquisitely handmade in cypress wood—Danish artist Ane Lykke masterfully blends Nordic perspectives with the Japanese Kumiko wood technique,” Wettergren offers as an example. “The three-dimensional grid system creates an interaction between the different layers, revealing subtle changes in light, shadow, depth, and reflection. Due to its considerable size, Light Object has a substantial, physical impact on the beholder.”

RADIANT: Light and (e)Motion at Galerie Maria Wettergren, featuring Light Object by Ane Lykke, 2018, and Presence–Absence by Germans Ermics and Iskos-Berlin, 2017. Photo © Gregory Copitet; Courtesy of Galerie Maria Wettergren

When asked whether the light theme is a response to the dark aspects of the last year, Wettergren says: “It’s true that RADIANT: Light and (e)Motion can be seen as a clin d’œil to the optimism that we are all aspiring for in this new year, as a counterpart to a rather gloomy 2020. The inspiration for this theme, however, came first and foremost from the works themselves… Etymologically, the word radiant refers both to rays of light and to heat, and it is in this double sense that these works should be considered. I have long been curious about the warm, almost soothing effect that emanates from these artworks.”

Wellbeing is a constant consideration in traditionally Scandianvian approaches to designing with and for light. That is to say, Scandianvian creatives have long considered and amplified the psychological dimension of light in their works. “Alvar Aalto’s masterpiece, the Paimio Sanatorium,” Wettergren mentions, “in which everything—the light, the furniture, and the architecture itself—was thought of through a spectrum of physical and psychological well-being, is a wonderful example.”

Wettergren concludes, “ To me, this exhibition is a reminder of the emotional changes that art can stir in your soul.” ◆

Work from Galerie Maria Wettergren is available in the Design Miami/ Shop here.

RADIANT: Light and (e)Motion is on view at Galerie Maria Wettergren from January 29 to March 13, 2021.