Surrealism is the new Real

Friday, August 5, 2016

Dale Chihuly Made Me Believe in Glass

            It was a double treat at the Royal Ontario Museum this past weekend, with two amazing displays, Tattoos and Chihuly's glass blown works. For this post I'll be focusing on Dale Chihuly's work. It ranges up there in the "amazing" range. 

            I'm pretty picky about glass blown art. In the past there have been a very few who have managed to catch my eye with their designs. Chihuly is definitely the one I've found most impressive. For more information about the ROM display: (For the record, there was a sign out front saying "photos encouraged" with the hashtag #scopify - feel free to check it out.) Not only is the quality of Chihuly's work astounding, but he also managed to pluck some personal heartstrings with me, taking on glass retakes on my favourite things - water, and campfires.

            I don't know if this was the intent, but the boatload of globes made me think of the Universe collected in a boat, and a creation story about sailing through the vast expanse of space, placing the planets and scattering them so the vastness would be less empty. I really enjoyed the contrast of the black glass beneath the boat as well, giving the impression of a calm black ocean, with colourful chaos riding on top.

            Or, the impression of a raging ocean in the boat while sailing on calm waters below. As someone who has never tried glass-blowing, I'm astounded by the myriad of shapes and colours Chihuly and his team are able to combine and shape, and with such vividness and range.
            Stepping into the next room I imagined going beneath the calm waters to an underwater coral reef entirely of glass. (Folks nearby discussed a fantasy/alien garden.) It's been a while since I've looked at glass work that made me delight in colour this much. I wanted to set up camp and just stare at it for hours, but alas, time waits for no one and there was still more to see.
            I wasn't able to get a full unblemished photo of the campfire, but as my camping buddies will know, I'm prone to staring into the flames and getting lost into daydreaming and meditation next to the fireside. When I saw this I had nearly the same reaction. I wanted to just stay and stare, which is difficult to do surrounded by other onlookers, who also aren't watching where they're going, and that in itself is hazardous around glasswork.

            The glass-on-glass ceiling was, without a doubt, my favourite part of the show. Large pillows on the floor allowed a body to lay staring upward and examine the kaleidoscope of colour. The two dear friends who were with me had their baby in tow, and apparently this kind of colour is mind-blowing to a child. She went through the room, and promptly passed out to have, what I choose to assume, were colour coated dreams.

            All in all, I have to admit to having been enchanted by Chihuly's display. I enjoy stained glass and glassworks, but his work has gone far beyond what I expected to see, or thought possible.



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