NAME: Untitled (Ceiling)
LOCATION: 318 Wellington Street West (between Wellington and Blue Jays Way)
“Chihuly has arrived in Toronto,” as the Royal Ontario Museum announced the opening of its latest headliner. But what many may not realize is that Dale Chihuly, the American glass sculptor, has been hanging out in Toronto since 2003.
The city has its very own permanent installation of Chihuly’s glasswork, suspended above the entrance of the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel downtown. Though nowhere near the breadth and scale of the installation at the ROM, you can sample his colourful confections for free if you’re in the neighbourhood to hit a Jays game.
Chihuly’s vision has been carried out by local artisans ever since a car accident in the mid-1970s cost him his left eye. (On his website, he gamely posted the answer to “why he wears an eye patch.”)
His “Untitled” piece is a replica/small-scale version of the “Persian Ceiling” at the ROM: a profusion of blown-glass, flower-like sculptures cast in radiant colours. “Untitled” is best seen aglow at night. The concept was first formed in 1986, fashioned into ceiling art in 1992, and replicated again for Toronto in the early aughts. And if you’re wondering what’s “Persian” about it, the Star reports Chihuly simply “liked the name.”
However, Chihuly is not necessarily one to lavish his works with abstract descriptions, leaving his Toronto piece untitled and countless others with self-explanatory monikers, which capture his straightforward interpretations of nature. His spiked crystal tower of stalagmites and stalactites, on display at the ROM, is simply titled “Icicles Chandeliers and Towers.” And then there’s “Red Reeds on Logs,” which resembles lava-red campfire, fittingly affixed on white birch logs from Ontario.
His uncomplicated works have left art critics wondering whether he belongs in an institution like the ROM. Many say they’re pretty spectacular to look at, but that’s it. While there’s not much mystery to behold, what’s striking about Chihuly’s sculptures—namely “Untitled” and “Persian Ceiling”—is the playful coloured shadows they cast, making you feel as though you’re bathing in a warm pool of light.
Photos by Beatrice Paez