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Frank Gehry’s Fish Lamps see the legendary architect on perfect form

 

Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, at times, looks like a fish. It leaps and flashes and glides and shimmers and undulates with every curvilinear form and contour of its exuberant, quicksilvered gills. To say Bilbao was a game changer is the understatement of 20th-century architecture. Bilbao was architecture’s most significant moment since the Colosseum. Bilbao rewrote Vitruvius. Bilbao rewrote Roman code. Bilbao recalibrated 2,000 years of architecture by opening the door to a bold and brave new world of aesthetic and imaginative possibility. Bilbao was Wow times one-hundred. Bilbao. Wow. Wow.   


Even today, 17 years on, revisit Bilbao and catch sight of those scales, and the hairs of the back and the down on the cheeks rise in adulation. The senses salute. Erumpent, triumphant, transcendental, monumental and miracle. "The fish is a perfect form," Gehry once said. Much like Bilbao. 

Fascinating it is then to discover a darkened gallery space brightened by Gehry’s luminous life-size and outsize fish at Gagosian Asia in Hong Kong, for which Gehry specially created these vigorous light sculptures. Playful and kinetic, the Fish Lamps, (first made by Gehry in 1983) are composed from a formica plastic laminate called ColorCore to form individual groupings, elaborate chandeliers and wall sconces. Curling and flexing as if in motion, they emit a warm, incandescent, almost meditative light. They are lantern-like, and they are piscatorial, yet, neither ticks any obvious Chinese box, despite the prevalence and provenance of both in China's artistic culture.  And they are perched – no pun intended for these are koi – on wooden pedestals, celebratory canvases sprung from an easel, like prize possessions. 

And then, unannounced, appears a snazzy, flashy, party piece of reptilian accessory.  So vivid you expect it to move, and still so fresh it's yet to be christened. For now, it's known as the rather unsnappy Untitled. Much like Damien Hirst’s 1991 shark in formaldehyde, you don’t question this piece; it’s a snap decision – you like it, you buy it. Boutique hotels, garden parties and D&G or Versace showrooms could wear this shiny black statement-maker like a second skin. 


Gehry's energetic structures prompt an unusual reaction: you want them to move. One pictures the glossy predator prowling the apron of an outdoor swimming pool, menacing, and the fish, shoaling and streamlining through the mid-air of anywhere. Now and zen. There's direction for today's frantic zeitgeist - art performance rather than performance art - living the art, not just looking at it. Which brings us back to Bilbao and a bold future. And Gehry shining new light on it, once again ...  


Frank Gehry: Fish Lamps Gagosian Gallery, 7/F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852.2151.0555. 

Hours: Tues-Sat 11am to 7pm. 

 

Images: Fish: Untitled (Hong Kong II), 2013. Metal wire, ColorCore formica and silicone on wooden base, 66 x45 x42 inches (167.6 x114.3 x 106.7cm). ©Frank Gehry. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Josh White/JWPictures.com.  

Alligator: Untitled (Hong Kong IX), 2013. Metal Wire, ColorCore formica and silicone. 26 3/4 x 118 1/8 x 148 inches (68 x300 x 376 cm). ©Frank Gehry. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Josh White/JWPictures.com.


Admin

Grab a line

Frank Gehry’s Fish Lamps see the legendary architect on perfect form

 

Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, at times, looks like a fish. It leaps and flashes and glides and shimmers and undulates with every curvilinear form and contour of its exuberant, quicksilvered gills. To say Bilbao was a game changer is the understatement of 20th-century architecture. Bilbao was architecture’s most significant moment since the Colosseum. Bilbao rewrote Vitruvius. Bilbao rewrote Roman code. Bilbao recalibrated 2,000 years of architecture by opening the door to a bold and brave new world of aesthetic and imaginative possibility. Bilbao was Wow times one-hundred. Bilbao. Wow. Wow.   


Even today, 17 years on, revisit Bilbao and catch sight of those scales, and the hairs of the back and the down on the cheeks rise in adulation. The senses salute. Erumpent, triumphant, transcendental, monumental and miracle. "The fish is a perfect form," Gehry once said. Much like Bilbao. 

Fascinating it is then to discover a darkened gallery space brightened by Gehry’s luminous life-size and outsize fish at Gagosian Asia in Hong Kong, for which Gehry specially created these vigorous light sculptures. Playful and kinetic, the Fish Lamps, (first made by Gehry in 1983) are composed from a formica plastic laminate called ColorCore to form individual groupings, elaborate chandeliers and wall sconces. Curling and flexing as if in motion, they emit a warm, incandescent, almost meditative light. They are lantern-like, and they are piscatorial, yet, neither ticks any obvious Chinese box, despite the prevalence and provenance of both in China's artistic culture.  And they are perched – no pun intended for these are koi – on wooden pedestals, celebratory canvases sprung from an easel, like prize possessions. 

And then, unannounced, appears a snazzy, flashy, party piece of reptilian accessory.  So vivid you expect it to move, and still so fresh it's yet to be christened. For now, it's known as the rather unsnappy Untitled. Much like Damien Hirst’s 1991 shark in formaldehyde, you don’t question this piece; it’s a snap decision – you like it, you buy it. Boutique hotels, garden parties and D&G or Versace showrooms could wear this shiny black statement-maker like a second skin. 


Gehry's energetic structures prompt an unusual reaction: you want them to move. One pictures the glossy predator prowling the apron of an outdoor swimming pool, menacing, and the fish, shoaling and streamlining through the mid-air of anywhere. Now and zen. There's direction for today's frantic zeitgeist - art performance rather than performance art - living the art, not just looking at it. Which brings us back to Bilbao and a bold future. And Gehry shining new light on it, once again ...  


Frank Gehry: Fish Lamps Gagosian Gallery, 7/F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852.2151.0555. 

Hours: Tues-Sat 11am to 7pm. 

 

Images: Fish: Untitled (Hong Kong II), 2013. Metal wire, ColorCore formica and silicone on wooden base, 66 x45 x42 inches (167.6 x114.3 x 106.7cm). ©Frank Gehry. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Josh White/JWPictures.com.  

Alligator: Untitled (Hong Kong IX), 2013. Metal Wire, ColorCore formica and silicone. 26 3/4 x 118 1/8 x 148 inches (68 x300 x 376 cm). ©Frank Gehry. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Josh White/JWPictures.com.


Admin