Licht voor de ziel


Het gebeurt niet vaak dat een spreker een zaal congresgangers met een brok in de keel achterlaat. De presentatie van lichtconsultant Vellachi Ganesan van ARUP Singapore op het Velux Daylight Symposium had dit effect wel. Haar relaas over haar zoektocht naar het licht dat zij in haar innerlijk voelt en dat zij nu en dan weerspiegelt ziet in de kunst of architectuur om haar heen, roerde menigeen tot tranen.

Licht voor de ziel
Velux Daylight Symposium 2011. Speakers


Wij vonden haar bereid om voor deze rubriek een korte versie van haar verhaal te maken.

The Light Within

An excerpt from the master thesis, The Light Within, by Vellachi Ganesan

Alle afbeeldingen zijn van Vellachi Ganesan, tenzij anders aangegeven

I have always known some where deep within myself, lies light. In the darkest hour of the night, during the silence of a sunrise or as the sunlight filters into the thicket of a forest, I have felt the presence of this light, of myself, of my own being come forth. Moments as such hold the deepest human experiences and it is in pursuit of such moments that I continue my journey.

afbeeldingen, met de klok mee: Vellachi Ganesan. Vellachi Ganesan,, Gao Xingjian Experience by Singapore Art Museum,

Sometimes, I have found these moments in man made works too, in architectural space and artistic experience. These works, from Turrell’s installations to Zumptor’s Therme, have touched me deeply and made me feel free, present and human. The presence of a certain light quality in their work speaks me in a way words cannot describe. I’ve contemplated these ideas for some time, and sought to explore them in my own ways. What is this feeling within me as I witness these works, such an undescribable sensation? Can I create such an evocative work too? What is the primary relationship between man and light? These are the questions that have fuelled and inspired this thesis.

  The relationship with light is perhaps one of the most basic and integral to our human existence on many levels. This relationship dates back to the beginning of human history, and even earlier, into our evolutionary period. Light has been an element that has always fascinated the human being, an element so powerful that it has been responsible for a human history of language and literature, art and architecture, spirituality and religion and a domain of science.

afbeeldingen, van links naar rechts,,, afbeeldingen, links, rechts

How can we unravel such a basic, real, primal relationship between the human being and light? The answer lies in delving deeper into the outward expressions of light in which we have expressed light, in language, literature, art, architecture, spirituality, religion and science, and through the exploration, reveal the human spirit from which these expressions of light were created.


In addition, we must explore the basis of human experience with light – sight, dreams and the construct of the human mind – imagination. Through an exploration of these elements, we might come closer to having a sense of what essentially light means to us.

Light in language

The word ‘light’ is used in many ways in language. The words that we are interested in this part of the thesis are those that help us reveal certain dimensions of the relationship between the human and light.

“to glow,” “to be radiant”


We often describe someone who is full, brimming with life, exuding presence as ‘glowing’ or ‘radiant.’ The energy we refer to here is a quiet and contained fullness and perhaps even ripeness. This fullness in the human presence is seen as the glow – as luminosity, as radiance, as light exuding from the person. It is hence implied that the light is contained within the human being, perhaps in the core of the existence, and the presence and fullness of the person calls forth the light to the surface, to emanate and be visible. The fullness of the light within is the fullness of the human being. Light is the essence of the human being.

Light in works of contemporary art

 afbeelding Gao Xingjian Experience by Singapore Art Museum

In the sea of contemporary art, we find sometimes the use of light in ways that are interesting to explore, to reveal deeper how artistic expression reflects the relationship between light and man. The works of Mark Rothko, Gao Xingjian and James Turrell are examples of such artistic expressions.


Influenced by Surrealism and primitive works of art, Rothko was trying to find the expression of human consciousness that transcended specific history or culture. Through abstraction and the removal of figures and representations, Rothko arrived at his distinctive pictorial format which we are familiar with today. Composed simply of clouds of different colours and luminosities, stacked upon one another, he paints an overwhelm¬ing emotional experience. In his quest for the core of human existence, Rothko found emotion to be a spatiality consisting of colours, textures and a sense of light.


The heart of Rothko’s work is similar to that of Gao’s and Turrell’s. All of their works are a revelation of the human self, and are composed of light. Through the abstraction of human consciousness as light, their work ap¬peals to everyone despite their background. All the details that surround us are parts of our epistemology, part of our inherited environment and hence, each of us has our own preference. However, a sense of light, which we inherit from ourselves, from our humanness, from our concep¬tion, from our affection, from our dreams, which is apparent in the language we speak and the way we think of spirituality, is a basic universal instinct of the human being. The relationship we have with light is the relationship we have with ourselves and the light within.

Toen ze zich dit realiseerde, begon Ganesan haar zoektocht naar haar persoonlijke, ultieme licht.


Eerst sliep ze veel, en schilderde ze


Dat leidde tot een 3D model


met zicht op de lucht.


Ze ontdekte in sneeuw een nieuw bouwmateriaal


en in Zweden een plek om te bouwen.


Ze vond een vorm die het licht op een veelheid van manieren doet uitkomen


en maakte een sneeuwen bouwwerk een plek om licht in te ervaren.



 foto Diana Joels

 foto Jonas Sundberg

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Vellachi Ganesan is lichtconsultant, lichtontwerper, beeldhouwer en architect.
Haar werk is te zien op

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