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Olafur Eliasson Gets His First-Ever Survey Show in China

'Nothingness is not nothing at all' includes several new works as well as a large selection from the artist's impressive oeuvre.

by Sami Emory
Mar 22 2016, 2:35pm

Olafur Eliasson, The open pyramid, 2016, Installation view: Long Museum, Shanghai, 2016, Photo: Anders Sune Berg, Courtesy of the artist; Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, © 2016 Olafur Eliasson

With its sparse, vast rooms, vaulted ceilings, and concrete innards, Olafur Eliasson’s first survey exhibition in China, Nothingness is not nothing at all comprises work from across the artist’s expansive career in addition to several new pieces created for the show itself, such as Eliasson’s large-scale, site-specific The open pyramid (shown above and below).  

The show, opened last weekend in Shanghai’s Long Museum, West Bund, capitalizes on the aesthetic offerings of the space itself, many of its selected works echoing the building’s appearence in their rudimentary geometric designs, like the overlapping squares and triangles of Your plural view or distorting circles of Seeing plants. The pieces have also been selected to encourage active engagement on the part of the visitor. “I wanted to amplify the feeling of the cavernous museum galleries by installing artworks that invite visitors to look inwards, to question how their senses work, and dream up utopias for everyday life,” Eliasson says in the show’s press release.

As such, and as is characteristic of the artist’s work, the pieces play with perception through natural elements and phenomena—ice, light, color, and illusion—compelling an active albeit imaginative construction of both Eliasson’s work and the space itself. “Art challenges our perspective on the world, turns it upside down, or suggests alternative views—I hope visitors to the exhibition will be inspired to undertake such enquiries,” continues the artist. “I see the questioning of what is as an opportunity. It makes that which we take for granted negotiable, open to change. 

Below, images from Nothingness is not nothing at all

Olafur Eliasson, The open pyramid, 2016, Installation view: Long Museum, Shanghai, 2016, Photo: Anders Sune Berg, Courtesy of the artist; Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, © 2016 Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson, Seeing plants, 2003, Installation view: Long Museum, Shanghai, 2016, Photo: Anders Sune Berg, Courtesy of the artist; Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, © 2003 Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson, Your plural view, 2011, Installation view: Long Museum, Shanghai, 2016, Photo: Anders Sune Berg, Courtesy of the artist; Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, © 2011 Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson, All your views, 2015, Installation view: Long Museum, Shanghai, 2016, Photo: Anders Sune Berg, Courtesy of the artist; Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, © 2015 Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson, Still river, 2016, Installation view: Long Museum, Shanghai, 2016, Photo: Anders Sune Berg, Courtesy of the artist; Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, © 2016 Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson, Installation view: Long Museum, Shanghai, 2016, Photo: Anders Sune Berg, Courtesy of the artist; Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, © 2016 Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson, Installation view: Long Museum, Shanghai, 2016, Photo: Anders Sune Berg, Courtesy of the artist; Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, © 2016 Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson’s survey show Nothingness is not nothing at all runs from now until June 19, 2016 at Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai. Find out about the show on the museum’s website and see more of Eliasson’s work on his interactive website

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