Monday, 5 October 2015
From Downtown to Out of Town


Anybody in big cities knows that sometimes you need to escape the concrete jungle. There may be a dozen great exhibitions around the corner, but if you are craving art in greener pastures, we recommend two stunning shows on view this summer and early autumn: Lightscape, which brings together light pieces by James Turrell at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, England, and Kapoor Versailles, installed in the iconic gardens of the French royal palace.

Since his first exhibition in 1967, James Turrell has created experiential installations that play with light and space. England’s finest Palladian hall, sumptuously designed and furnished in the 18th century, may not seem like the most intuitive space for his minimalist, eerie and primeval pieces (think Turrell’s monumental project at Roden Crater in Arizona), but the Marquess of Cholmondeley owns Houghton Hall and has commissioned a series of permanent installations for the estate over the last two decades.

The result is a show that ranges across the stables, hall and grounds and includes a SkySpace – an empty room whose open ceiling frames the sky above. Surrounded by several thousand acres of countryside, which has an organic farm, a herd of white deer and ancient oak trees, the site offers the natural light, quiet and timelessness that Turrell’s work demands. 

Only an hour from Paris, Anish Kapoor has placed six monumental works in the baroque context of Versailles. Four are along the Grande Perspective, the major central axis of the lavishly designed gardens, whose regimented structure is a perfect contrast to Kapoor’s transgressed edges, boundaries and containers.

Uncanny pieces such as Descension (2014), a water artwork that appears to be a swirling whirlpoolwith a central abyss, are eruptions in the controlled order of Versailles. Contemplate the dialogue between old and new ideas about power, aesthetics and the natural world as you lounge on the garden greens with a picnic, just like Marie Antoinette.