David Zwirner is pleased to present Doug Wheeler: Encasements, the artist's third solo exhibition with the gallery, on view at 537 West 20th Street in New York. This exhibition represents the most comprehensive presentation to date of this important body of work, and will comprise five "encasements," including a rarely seen "center light" work. Presented here in an open configuration, viewers will have the unprecedented opportunity to consider these singular works in relation to one another and to compare the distinct luminous atmospheric effects and subtle tonal variations that characterize each of them. Previously, no more than two encasements have been shown together, as in exhibitions at Fort Worth Art Center Museum, Texas (1969), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (1969), and Tate Gallery, London (1970), and accordingly this exhibition aims to underscore their ongoing significance.
A pioneering figure in what is often referred to as the Light and Space movement in Los Angeles during the 1960s and 1970s, Wheeler is noted for his innovative constructions and installations that manipulate the perception and experience of space, volume, and light. First conceived between 1967 and 1969, the artist's "light encasements" evolved out of his longstanding experimentations with fabricated acrylic and neon, and consist of large panels of vacuum-formed plastic with neon lighting embedded along their inside edges. Installed in a white room with all architectural detail and ambient light eliminated, the light paintings appear to dematerialize, immersing viewers in a luminous space where light seems to have almost particulate mass.
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During the 1960s and 1970s, a loosely affiliated group of Los Angeles artists—including Larry Bell, Mary Corse, Robert Irwin, James Turrell, and Doug Wheeler—more intrigued by questions of perception than by the crafting of discrete objects, embraced light as their primary medium. Whether by directing the flow of natural light, embedding artificial light within objects or architecture, or playing with light through the use of reflective, translucent, or transparent materials, each of these artists created situations capable of stimulating heightened sensory awareness in the receptive viewer. Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface, companion book to the exhibition of the same name, explores and documents the unique traits of the phenomenologically engaged work produced in Southern California during those decades and traces its ongoing influence on current generations of international artists.