Jim Lambie – Tomorrow Never Knows (2011)


Jim Lambie (Glasgow, Scotland, 1964, where he lives and works) is best known for his floors, which he calls Zobops. Lambie has covered many different floors of galleries and museums in Europe and the United States, using long, narrow strips of tape, in all the colours of the rainbow. These strips follow the contours of the room very precisely, curving around alcoves, plinths and pillars. The resulting brightly coloured, striped patterns are hallucinatory, and often literally dazzling. The floors appear to move, because of the interaction between the different colours; black seems to sink into the floor, while the intense, bright colours really stand out. This creates a three-dimensional effect, disorienting the viewer. These works are reminiscent of paintings by artists such as Bridget Riley and other practitioners of Optical Art (Op Art), with their contrasting, vibratory colours and moiré effects (an interference pattern created, for example, when two grids are overlaid at an angle, or when they have slightly different mesh sizes).The bright use of colour particularly brings to mind the Color Field paintings of artists including Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis.


In addition to his extremely labour-intensive floor works, Lambie also creates very colourful sculptures and installations, using a wide variety of materials, from shoes and belts to doors, porcelain ornaments and all kinds of musical equipment, which he finishes with paint and tape. He finds his materials on the street and in second-hand shops. Lambie is also a musician and DJ, so music plays an important role in his work. He incorporates LPs, record players, speakers and rock T-shirts into his sculptures and installations. The titles of his works tend to refer to bands and lyrics. One element that often features in his work is the Sonic Reducer: a concrete block that appears to have partly sunk into the ground, with one side displaying a colourful collection of the spines of album covers. In his collage series Found Flower Paintings (2008), Lambie stuck cut-up pieces of Chinese paintings of floral still lifes over posters of music icons such as Nick Cave and Ian Curtis.


Another work that Lambie created as a series and to which he keeps returning is the sculpture of a suit of armour that has been crumpled into a compact block and placed on a concrete pedestal. These works are strongly reminiscent of the sculptures of crushed car wrecks by French sculptor César Baldaccini, a representative of the French Nouveau Réalisme movement, which is related to Pop Art. Dog-eared aluminium sheets in a myriad of colours are another familiar element of Lambie’s body of work. He uses these sheets in his installations, even covering entire walls with them.


One constant in the midst of the great variety of Lambie’s work is his bright use of colour, which gives the work its sparkling and exuberant character. For Lustwarande ’11, Lambie has selected an unusual location: the shed near the centre of De Oude Warande. In an opening in one of the side walls, actually the hatch for the loft, he has constructed a work of concentric bands of colour, Tomorrow Never Knows (2011). The title is taken from the Beatles song title (Revolver, 1966). The colours of the circles, which become ever smaller around a central point, influence one another. This effect is sufficient to create a suggestion of depth. Visitors couldn’t get close to the installation, so were unable to ascertain whether Lambie’s work is three-dimensional or in fact two-dimensional. Whatever the case, it certainly absorbed the gaze.


Manon Braat / translation Laura Watkinson