Suzanne Lovell Inc

Fine Art

Engaging space to create a metaphysical experience

February 11, 2017

Artists have created a space for the contemplation of the viewer in both the physical and metaphysical realms throughout history. Enjoy a few examples as inspired by this piece from Widewalls

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, 1652 in Rome, Italy

Image courtesy of Artble

Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa is a religious ecstasy visualized in the figure of an angel, the arrow that is about to pierce the nun’s heart, and the golden shower of God’s love. All nicely situated in an elevated aedicule (a shrine designed into the form of a building). Space in this Baroque masterpiece transcends the immediacy of the palpable area to include the metaphysical one, materialized in concrete and recognizable forms. Two spaces and realities merge, but relations that guide our sense of space are preserved here. Even the aedicule is engaged in the final effect of the piece where a small window in the upper part of the architectural element allows light to fall down onto Bernini’s composition.

In painting, one of the best-known examples is Rothko. Space is flattened as areas of color are presented side-by-side that should provoke contemplation and induce metaphysical peace.

The Rothko Chapel, in Houston, Texas

Rothko never saw this space; he died in 1970, a few months before it opened, just before installers lowered in his paintings through the ceiling since they didn’t fit through the doorway. The paintings are the only adornment in this building that from the outside looks like an electrical substation, all bricks and no windows. But inside… “Inside, it’s a space that makes you feel like you’re living in one of Rothko’s paintings. It’s a place that captures opposites: It’s large yet intimate. Dark yet bright. Spare yet rich. The chapel is infinity captured. Vastness contained.”

Image courtesy of GQ

Troika, Arcades, 2015

Image courtesy of the artists via

Troika (Eva Rucki, Conny Freyer and Sebastien Noel) created a site-specific architectural installation, Arcades (2012), comprised of light pillars which rays refracted by a fresnel lens created the illusion of gothic arches. As the artists stated: “creating a spatial suspension of disbelief, Arcades encourages an analysis of our relationship with the metaphysical in a world increasingly governed by practical, rational and scientific principles.”

Troika’s representation of Arcades in watercolor

Image courtesy of the artists via