Vibrating color: Jim Lambie

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

Glasgow-based artist Jim Lambie creates installations out of vinyl tape that make spaces come alive with an intense energy. Tracing the contours of a room’s perimeter, his work seems to magnify the lines of the structures, surfacing patterns from static-seeming architecture. It’s almost as if he’s liberating the movement from the space, giving it voice through color.

The kinetic force of Lambie’s work may stem from his origins in music. He has said:

You put a record on and it’s like all the edges disappear. You’re in a psychological space. You don’t sit there thinking about the music, you’re listening to the music. You’re inside that space that the music’s making for you.

This is true about music: it’s something you inhabit rather than something you regard. It’s also true that music has an inherent movement, a temporal thrust, a pace and vibration. Music, with its long oscillations, jostles the air around us, scatters its molecules and sends them pinging against our eardrums. We don’t see it, but music transforms a room into a thoroughly kinetic space. Lambie’s color similarly fills the space with vibrations.

While I object to the comparison with Pollock, I feel sympathy with Jonathan Jones of The Guardian when he writes in 2008:

Like Pollock he pours colour and line in ways that liberate energy and suggest the inner structures of the cosmos. Above all, Lambie is a pure artist – his art is totally self-sufficient in its worth and power. It is distilled energy, concentrated life. Marvellous stuff.

Right now I’m steeped in the study of energy – photons, pulsations, valences, spectrums – and thinking a lot about movement at all scales, from the quiver of electrons to the whirl of the planets. But it all comes back to aesthetics for me: how we feel this energy through our senses, and once felt, how it affects us. Lambie’s work is just poppy and irreverent enough to seem like play, but that hides its power. This is potent stuff: bracing, fervent, and vital.

Via: Bjorn’s Randoms

July 9th, 2012

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