Chihuly @ Halcyon Gallery, Bond Street

Halcyon Gallery showcases an exhibition with the work of Dale Chihuly. The timing of the exhibition marks fifty years of the International Studio Glass Movement, which started in America in 1962. Chihuly is the Movement’s founding member and leading protagonist.

The ground floor of the gallery hosts the larger scale works including the giant chandeliers (‘Cranberry & Clear Chandelier’ and ‘Dusky Sky Chandelier’) that welcome visitors as they arrive along with other astonishing glasswork in extraordinary shapes such as the Persian Wall and the Waterford Sconces. The grand staircase to the Mezzanine opens onto the world of ‘Mille Fiori’, a 24 feet long (c.7.3m.) installation, an assemblage of “a thousand flowers”, all placed painstakingly to create an imaginative garden of crystal organic forms, where intense colours erupt and light generates dreamlike reflections. Chihuly also revisits his old favourite series of ‘Cylinders’ and ‘Baskets’ by adding more recent creations for the purpose of this show (‘Black Cylinders’, ‘White Cylinders’ and ‘Baskets’, 2011), also exhibited on the ground floor. One of the most interesting and intriguing aspects of the exhibition is the inclusion of drawings and paintings by Chihuly that he normally produces before a new piece is made. There we detect once again the use of vivid colours in combination with a personal expressionistic character. At the basement we also find a series of smaller pieces from Chihuly’s repertoire including vases and bowls placed upon pedestals, all referring to shapes of flowers and other organic forms. The ‘lip wrap’ is a technique that followed the tradition of Venetian glassmaking; it has been adapted and further developed throughout the years by Chihuly. Two micro-environments of flame-like objects and spheres have also been created in smaller rooms on the basement.

Chihuly is undoubtedly a highly talented artist working with glass, an extremely difficult medium. Experimenting with its properties over the years, Chihuly managed to elevate glassmaking from the realm of craft to inspiring and influential contemporary art and a visual experience. By developing innovative methods he brought new life to an old technique. His influences from nature demonstrate and profoundly depict this fragility and beauty to his artwork. On many occasions, Chihuly has chosen to exhibit his work in great outdoors such as lakes and rivers or locations with intense vegetation (Kew Gardens, London and New York Botanical Garden) and always participates in new projects (such as and the forthcoming installation in Seattle, Washington). It is not coincidental that many private collections and art institutions around the world appreciate and exhibit his art, his V&A installation being one of his most recognisable pieces.