Olafur Eliasson, the contemporary Danish-Icelandic artist invited to expose in 2016 at the Château de Versailles, renovated Louis XIV’s former stomping ground by hanging a giant, pre-Christmas ornament from the ceiling.
Or so the eye believed.
Entering the Salle des Gardes du Roi, the room is stripped of furniture, save for two convex mirrors spinning ominously in tandem with the motor installed inside the heart of a mandarin orange ball.
Out of eight other installations, “Solar Compression” was my favorite.
Interviewed in June 2015 by Rachel Cooke for The Guardian, Eliasson stated: “I am not special.”
Others would agree. He’s too modest. So Olafur won’t admit it, but I will. He’s clever as hell.
He is, as President of the Château de Versailles Catherine Pégard put it, the Man of Light. And that’s a nickname to live up to when invited as a guest to the Sun King’s palace.
Reusing his choice mono-frequency lamp also featured in the London exhibition “The Weather Project,” Eliasson flirts with the malleability of visual perception. Stand on one side of the room and the mirrors were completely black. The sliver of a neon core flashed in a semi-sexual smile. She was juicy, she was sexy. Walk to the opposite side of the ornament, and the light trick happened in reverse.
Between hypnosis and the subtlety of a whisper, Eliasson’s mirrors turned and turned. If they slowed, it was only to look over their shoulder and say, “Louis, you’ve been immortalized.” ■