Unveiling the Dual Nature of Art: Julian Charrière’s Beauty and Disaster at Sean Kelly Gallery

In the heart of the art world, a mesmerizing spectacle is unfolding at the Sean Kelly Gallery, where Julian Charrière’s thought-provoking art installation, "Controlled Burn," explores the enthralling duality of beauty and disaster, all through a lens of energy. This Los Angeles debut, aptly titled "Buried Sunshine," offers a visual and intellectual journey that’s as captivating as it is disconcerting.

A Dance of Light and Destruction

Julian Charrière

"Controlled Burn" is the star of the show, a mural-scale video installation that immerses viewers in an awe-inspiring, 32-minute loop of pyrotechnic wonders. The visual choreography is nothing short of breathtaking, as bursts of pinwheel energy transform into a dance of death, with energy as its central theme.

Tiny spots of bright, white light against a jet-black canvas initially evoke a serene night sky. However, these spots come alive, creating slip-sliding traceries of luminosity that eventually explode. The imagery, both beautiful and ominous, portrays smoke-shrouded rockets folding in on themselves, reminiscent of overheated galaxies collapsing into icy black holes. The accompanying soundtrack crescendos into a deafening roar, emphasizing the overwhelming power and destruction at play.

The juxtaposition is striking, as we are briefly transported to a desert floor, bathed in glowing raw sienna, firmly grounding the boundless sky into the circumscribed earth. After each dramatic climax, the noise subsides, only to soar again through a stunning black-and-white fireworks display, akin to a surreal Fourth of July celebration.

A Haunting Message

However, amidst the visual splendor, Charrière’s work doesn’t shy away from the unsettling. A momentary glimpse of a collapsing tower of rusted metal emerges amidst the shooting stars, possibly symbolizing a rotting oil derrick, or perhaps a commentary on a poisoned sea. The beauty and disaster themes are undeniably interwoven in this evocative narrative.

The artist filmed these aerial sequences with a drone at open-pit mines and oil drilling sites rigged with fireworks. His meticulous editing, including running clips forward and backward at variable speeds, creates a dizzying portrayal of explosion and implosion. The exhibition’s handout hints at "flashing images of primordial unfurling ferns and fluttering moths" at subliminal speeds, further adding layers of complexity to the experience.

Beyond the Video Installation

Charrière’s "Buried Sunshine" is more than just "Controlled Burn." The exhibition features eight striking large photographs that document Los Angeles and its surroundings. Additionally, it includes two sculptures dating back to 2020, which draw inspiration from Mesoamerican material culture.

In this multifaceted exhibition, the Swiss-born, Berlin-based artist, Julian Charrière, has masterfully created a lucid tone poem that explores energy as both a source of fruitful power and an injurious force. His art provokes contemplation on the intricate relationship between beauty and disaster, leaving visitors with much to ponder.

"Julian Charrière’s art brings beauty and disaster to Sean Kelly" indeed, offering an unforgettable experience that lingers long after one has left the gallery. It’s a showcase of artistic brilliance that boldly tackles the most profound aspects of existence, and it’s a must-see for art enthusiasts and deep thinkers alike.

The Thought-Provoking Themes of ‘Buried Sunshine’ Exhibition at Sean Kelly Gallery

What are the central themes of Julian Charrière’s ‘Buried Sunshine’ exhibition?

In ‘Buried Sunshine,’ Julian Charrière delves into the intricate histories of Los Angeles, specifically the pivotal moment in the late 19th century when petroleum was discovered. This discovery acted as a catalyst, propelling the region into industrialization and leading to Los Angeles becoming the second-largest city in the United States.

The central themes of ‘Buried Sunshine’ are:

  • Historical Entanglement: Charrière uncovers the interconnected past of Los Angeles, shedding light on how the discovery of petroleum forever changed the city’s trajectory.
  • Industrial Transformation: The exhibition explores the profound impact of this discovery, ushering in an era of industrialization that shaped the region’s identity.
  • Urban Metamorphosis: By focusing on this historical juncture, ‘Buried Sunshine’ unravels the metamorphosis of Los Angeles from a small town to a major American metropolis.

Charrière’s artistic lens provides a unique perspective on the evolution of a city and its intertwined relationship with energy resources.

Sean Kelly Gallery, founded in 1991, is owned by the British-born art enthusiast, Sean Kelly. Located in New York City, this esteemed gallery specializes in representing established and mid-career artists, with a primary focus on installations and performance-based works. Sean Kelly’s journey in the art world began in the British museum scene, where he curated shows featuring notable sculptors like Richard Deacon and Anthony Gormley during their early careers.

Under the stewardship of owner Sean Kelly, the gallery has become a prominent platform for artists to showcase their innovative and transformative art, making it a significant player in the contemporary art landscape.

What is the Story Behind the Gallery?

The Gallery unfolds as an interactive narrative, featuring two distinct storylines. The first is set in 1981, centered around a female protagonist, while the second transpires in 2021, with a male protagonist. This narrative is a sequel to the interactive rom-com, Five Dates. The story revolves around Misha, a millennial from London, on a quest for a genuine, in-person connection. To achieve this, she employs a clever ruse, convincing her best friend, Ryan, to accompany her to a speed dating event.

Within the interactive narrative of The Gallery, players will explore the complexities of modern dating and interpersonal connections, making choices that impact the unfolding storyline.

What is Charrière’s ‘Buried Sunshine’ Exhibition?

Charrière’s ‘Buried Sunshine’, marking the artist’s Los Angeles debut, is an impressive exhibition that presents a striking juxtaposition of themes. The title, "Buried Sunshine," evokes both radiance and a sense of memorial. At the heart of this showcase is a visually extravagant 2022 video projection titled "Controlled Burn." Complementing this centerpiece are eight large new photographs and two sculptures dating back to 2020.

The exhibition masterfully weaves together the themes of energy, industrialization, and the transformation of Los Angeles, creating an immersive artistic experience that prompts reflection on the interplay between beauty and disaster.

What is ‘Controlled Burn’?

Julian Charrière’s ‘Controlled Burn’ is a mural-scale video installation that immerses viewers in an astonishing display of elaborate pyrotechnics. This captivating creation skillfully transforms bursts of light-filled, pinwheel-like energy into a mesmerizing portrayal of the dance of death. The projection, featured at the Sean Kelly Gallery, runs on a continuous 32-minute loop, making it virtually impossible to divert your gaze.

At the heart of ‘Controlled Burn’ lies the exploration of energy as its central theme. Through the interplay of beauty and disaster, Charrière’s work delivers a thought-provoking experience that prompts contemplation on the profound power and destructive force inherent in the concept of energy.

Who Curated ‘Controlled Burn’?

The compelling exhibition ‘Controlled Burn’ was expertly curated by the experienced hands of Dehlia Hannah and Nadim Samman. These two individuals, long-term collaborators and commentators on Julian Charrière’s work, have orchestrated an artistic narrative that not only delves into the theme of burning fossil fuel but also highlights the rapid growth of the artist’s career.

Their curation skillfully weaves together the threads of Charrière’s artistic journey, offering a thought-provoking experience that resonates with themes of sustainability and artistic evolution.

What is ‘Controlled Burn 2022’?

Julian Charrière’s ‘Controlled Burn 2022’ is an eponymously titled, large-scale video installation that takes center stage in the museum’s largest hall. This immersive masterpiece is the culmination of the artist’s new commissions, offering viewers a mesmerizing journey through a cascade of fireworks set within various industrial settings, including a cooling tower, rocket silo, and an oil platform.

Charrière’s ‘Controlled Burn 2022’ is a visual spectacle that captivates the audience, drawing them into the evocative narrative of industrial and energy-related landscapes, providing a unique and thought-provoking perspective on these environments.

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