Sanford Wurmfield: E-Cyclorama
Rainbow in the round
This article is from 2008.
New York based artist Wurmfield’s new creation is a sight to behold. He channels the colour theories of the great Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell by way of Goethe, the Scottish Enlightenment (there is a reason this work is being premiered in the Scottish capital) and artist Robert Barker’s 1788 circular panoramas of Edinburgh from the top of Calton Hill to startling effect.
Oval in shape and painted on the inside of a large cylinder, E-Cyclorama is an attempt to recreate the rainbow colour spectrum on over 700sq ft of canvas. This artist’s bag is finding the colour keys to palette conundrums and the emotions that colours engender. When you enter this remarkable space through a steep blacked out staircase, the rainbow panorama is a jolt to the senses. A stride in the round (clockwise seems to work best) takes you on the colour chart continuum. These things are of course subjective, but genuine emotions and physical disorientation is part of the experience, particularly when passing the vibrant yellow panels and their bleed offs.
Supported by the five more straightforward Cyclorama 2000 canvases in which Wurmfeld first experimented with this format, this is giddy and fun stuff. It’s not particularly new: Bridget Riley (among others) developed these types of formal progressions, colour relationships and repetitive structures way back in the 1960s. Wurmfeld has just re-imaged this work in the round for the Photoshop colour template crowd. Still full marks to Wurmfeld for making the Barker connection and giving this intriguing, undeniably gimmicky exhibition a real Scottish relevance.
ECA, 221 6089, until Fri 5 Sep, 10am-6pm, free.