Features & Interviews
An Exclusive Interview with Dale Chihuly - featuring his first major garden exhibition in Asia
American artist Dale Chihuly, a trailblazer in his work with blown glass, will bring his large-scale installations and sculptures to Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay from 1 May – 1 August, 2021. Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom marks the artist’s first major garden exhibition in Asia, presenting visitors with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience an extensive collection of the celebrated artist’s works. The Artling had the opportunity to chat with Mr Chihuly himself on the upcoming exhibition and his practice.
Dale Chihuly, 2017. © Chihuly Studio. All Rights Reserved.
Congratulations on this landmark exhibition in Asia! Could you tell us more about the theme of the exhibition? How does the Gardens by the Bay exhibition differ from your previous exhibitions at the Royal Botanic Gardens or the New York Botanical Garden?
At their core, all my exhibitions are studies in light, space, and form. I get inspired by each unique environment, and I design to each considering their distinct aspects, whether a garden landscape or museum gallery. I hope this exhibition brings together enthusiasts of both art and gardens and that everyone leaves with a new appreciation for the immense beauty of the other.
Do you have a favorite piece within the extensive collection exhibited in Singapore?
It is impossible to choose a favorite. Each work responds to the environment in a distinct way. It is a process of discovery to work in different kinds of spaces and to create new experiences. For Gardens by the Bay, I created Setting Sun, and it is being placed across a long vista from the Moon, an installation that I have not shown since its debut at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem in 2000. I am excited for visitors to experience how the pieces interact in this spectacular setting.
Dale Chihuly, Ethereal White Persians, 2018. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, installed 2021 © Chihuly Studio. Photo by Nathaniel Willson.
Given the beautiful yet fragile nature of glass, what have been some of the challenges of transporting and remotely installing the exhibition from halfway across the world?
I have exhibited artwork all over the world. My team is extraordinarily skilled in handling the intricate logistics of an international exhibition. Trusting them is second nature. With this exhibition the challenges were not as much related to protecting the artwork. The ever-changing conditions due to the pandemic posed the greatest issues for everyone involved. I am thrilled we were able to overcome these obstacles. This exhibition is a special invitation for people to gather again around a shared experience of art.
Dale Chihuly, White Tower, 1997, and other installations. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, installed 2021 © Chihuly Studio. Photo by Nathaniel Willson.
Can you tell us about your creative ideation and the labour-intensive process of creating your stunning large-scale sculpture installations?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. I can find it in a Van Gogh painting, an historic train bridge, a great section of a Hemingway novel, a sunset, and, of course, the physical space of the exhibition itself. My process often starts with drawings from which the concepts and forms are taken to the hotshop for exploration and experimentation.
Given the spontaneous and ever-changing nature of working in glass, how do you ensure the final artworks fit your initial vision?
The spontaneous nature of working with glass is something that I love about the medium. As the glass is blown, there is room to play and discover. In these situations, I act like a film director or architect, guiding my team as my artistic vision evolves in response to the way the glass forms and falls naturally.
Dale Chihuly, Cloud Forest Persians, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, installed 2021 © Chihuly Studio.
You mentioned that you experimented for a year to search for the right “form” for The Persians series. Do you seek to emulate the “forms” of nature or are the forms created solely with your own interpretations?
As I experimented with hot glass and its organic properties, my work naturally began to look like something that came from the sea or from a garden. While I don’t always have specific forms in mind going into the process, my work often ends up looking like part of our natural environment. I think that is because I have learned over many years what the glass wants to do organically.
Dale Chihuly, Blue and Purple Boat, 2006. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, installed 2021 © Chihuly Studio. Photo by Nathaniel Willson.
Do you have a preference in terms of presenting your artworks in a man-made versus natural environment?
Every location, man-made or natural, provides a unique environment and inspiration for creativity. I am fortunate to be able to place work in both architectural and natural settings.
Dale Chihuly, End of the Day Persian Chandelier, 2015. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, installed 2021 © Chihuly Studio. Photo by Nathaniel Willson.
Can you share anything about your other upcoming projects, or any experiments in the medium that you are looking to try?
I always have projects in the works. Some are in the conceptual stage; others are in active development. At present, I am most excited about the opening of this exhibition at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.
Special thanks to Mr Dale Chihuly and his studio.
'Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom' is now open at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore until August 1, 2021. For more information and ticket purchase, please visit www.chihulyinbloom.com.
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Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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