James Lee Byars. The palace of good luck

From 12 April 1989 to 11 June 1989

Curated by Rudi Fuchs, Johannes Gachnang and Cristina Mundici


James Lee Byars, (Detroit, Michigan, USA, 1932 – Cairo, Egypt, 1997) was interested in eastern cultures and belief systems, having spent long periods in Japan from 1957 to 1967, where he taught English to Buddhist monks.

Although Byars was heavily influenced by ancient eastern philosophies, he was equally fascinated with the latest advances in scientific research. The visual language he created was based on forms such as the circle and sphere that were simple yet had a profound symbolic value.

The materials and colours he adopted, including gold, black, and velvet, also functioned on a metaphorical level. Every aspect of his art directly refers to the classical idea of perfection and eternal forms, and there is a constant reminder of the power of the spirit and the intensification of its presence in the real world. Gold and the sphere also reappear in The Fire Circle, a performance enacted by Byars for the exhibition opening: dressed in gold, the artist set fire to a sphere of shrubs that burned throughout the night.

The Palace of Good Luck presents works whose meaning and symbolism are ambiguous, elusive and enigmatic, inviting viewers to discover the answers for themselves by delving into their own cultural memory bank. Presence is only experienced in its past form, yet it can only be accessed through the present, the instant in which the viewer encounters the work. In fact, the key to understanding these works is within them, and they inevitably elude anyone who does not enter fully into the present moment.



From 12 April 1989 to 11 June 1989