Tempus Volat, Hora FugitTime Flies, Hours Flee

March 20, 2023 through March 20, 2025

Christian Sampson (American, b. 1974)
Tempus volat, hora fugit, 2023
Part 4: Winter Solstice
Dichroic and vinyl film on glass and Plexiglass

The title of this four-part installation series translates from Latin to “time flies, hours flee.” Through the seemingly simple means of light and color, this immersive artwork addresses the passage of time, and the magnitude of our natural world.  

Each iterative installation takes place according to the astronomical calendar. For the Vernal Equinox, Sampson emphasized a sense of balance and symmetry, referencing the fact that the Equinoxes mark the times of year when across the world the length of daylight is just about equal to the length of night. For the Summer Solstice, which, in the Northern Hemisphere, represents the Earth’s maximum tilt towards the sun resulting in the longest day of the year, Sampson chose to further embellish the east wall, and turned to the west and to some of the highest reaches of the Conservatory. For the Autumnal Equinox, the artist focused on the interaction of discs of color suspended from the Conservatory’s skylight. For the final installation, Sampson has created sculptures that sit atop the Museum’s east vestibule, casting new shapes of colored light that are best viewed from the second story catwalk. 

Tempus volat, hora fugit is, first and foremost, an immersive exercise in color and form that is clearly constructed by an artist whose background is in painting. It is also, however, an exercise in confronting and contemplating the vastness of the universe, and our place within it. Visitors are invited to slow down, to open up to new ways of experiencing artistic practice, and to dare to consider the sublime vastness of time. 

Sampson is a multimedia artist whose practice is anchored largely by philosophies related to the Light and Space movement that originated in California in the 1960s, particularly the ideas of ephemerality and optical perception. He also has an affinity for early film mediums and animation, and there is a durational, cinematic quality to his work. Sampson has worked site-specifically, spending time in the Museum’s Conservatory to experience the changing of light that is so beautifully captured in our array of windows. Sampson earned his BFA from Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL and an MFA from Hunter College, New York City, NY. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States as well as at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. He lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.