Drawing portrait of Olafur Eliasson - Copyrights: PETER JAMES FIELD

When art alerts the world to the reality

Posted on 25 February 2015.

Internationally renowned artist Olafur Eliasson trusts the emotional and narrative power of his works to raise people’s awareness about the challenges of tomorrow's world.

Olafur Eliasson was born in Denmark but grew up in Iceland, his parents’ homeland, and it was these roots that shaped his relationship with the world. Glaciers, melting ice, northern lights and magnetic phenomena, volcanoes and their unpredictable eruptions forged his attachment to the four elements - rough diamonds he cuts and polishes in the Berlin studio he opened in 1995. In this multidisciplinary workplace, he welcomes talented technicians, art historians, scientists, web designers... giving life to the large-scale works in which the plays of light, volumes and optical devices create hypnotic sensory environments.

As his artistic practices developed, with people at the center of a fragile balance, the ever increasing number of colleagues (85 at present), and the questions raised, an ecological and social consciousness took shape and root, along with an interest in the circular economy. In its way artistic, it acts a warning about the state of the world – as demonstrated by the Ice Watch project. Twelve enormous ice blocks arranged like the numbers on a huge watch face on the forecourt of Copenhagen City Hall, where a group of UN climate change experts met in late October 2014, provided a very explicit representation the phenomenon of global warming. Much more eloquent than a report written by experts. His 2006 work entitled “Your waste of time” - ice monoliths shown in his Berlin gallery –then ultimately addressed this question. Olafur Eliasson imagines a form of sculptural ecology. Playing on perceptions and visitors’ projections, he increases the force of the message - more elastic than alarmist and more motivating than guilt making.

In 2012, Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen designed the Little Sun. It is a small portable lamp powered by solar energy that will illuminate the Tate Modern in London with its rays. This piece of art is also an effective alternative to the kerosene lamps commonly used in rural communities without access to electricity. Nominated for a GreenTec award to be held in Berlin on May 29, Little Sun shows the extent to which the work of Olafur Eliasson is intertwined with life -and that some of his work has been developed well beyond the world of art to join the real world and its challenges. A rather unusual trade-off, which makes him an exceptional designer in the circle of recognized contemporary artists - contemporary in a much more sensitive way, given his attachment to people and the environment.

Main picture: Drawing portrait of Olafur Eliasson