Plat 99 Artist and MacArthur Fellow Jorge Pardo Comes to Indy

The man behind the Insta-famous lamps at that hotel bar will soon arrive to give a talk, meet art lovers, and share a meal.
Plat 99 general manager Michael Gray mixes up a concoction in the trendy bar.

You love his lamps. They hang down, shedding brilliant colors as you sip cocktails with friends. Thus, in this document-everything age we live in, you take a photo of the lamps. You seek to capture their elegance, applying filters and marking the images with the hashtag #Plat99. But who’s the artist behind these creations?

He is Jorge Pardo, a MacArthur Fellow who designed the Plat 99 lounge at The Alexander from the ceiling to the floor. And he thinks your admiration of his lamps is fantastic.

Pardo and his studio were approached by the Indianapolis Museum of Art and The Alexander back in 2012. “We did a preliminary trip to discuss the work and their interests,” he says. “It was a project we were interested in from the beginning. It was pretty straightforward.”

The lights and design of the bar, however, don’t appear to be as straightforward. The way in which all the colors, patterns, and arrangements work together attest to Pardo’s mastering of his practice.

“I have a repertoire of working with light and lighting, and it’s an ongoing interest in the same way that people who draw every day draw,” he says, “and every time we do an installation, it’s an extension of that.” He becomes more direct when a certain word comes up: “I don’t like inspiration. I don’t use inspiration. I think inspiration is completely overrated.”

That is hard to believe. The design of the lamps—the explosions of reds, blues, yellows, and oranges that create a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere—almost appears to be inspired by his relaxed appearance. Images of Pardo typically capture him in a button-down, khakis, and sandals.

However, he disagrees with that as well: “I’m not that relaxed, but I’ve been doing this long enough that everything that can go wrong already has … maybe so it makes it a little easier to make decisions.”

And while he may dismiss inspiration, he definitely doesn’t discount the importance of these colors. “I like leisure and pleasure,” Pardo adds. “Color is good for you.”

You can hear from him firsthand at the “Party with Pardo” events on Nov. 1 at The Alexander, presented by the IMA’s Contemporary Arts Society. Participants will be able to admire Plat 99’s exceptional design over cocktails and then hear Pardo give a talk in the hotel’s ballroom. A select number will also be able to enjoy “Plates with Pardo” at Cerulean after the talk.

The deadlines to garner tickets to the night’s events are at hand: Oct. 25 (today) for the dinner and Oct. 30 for the artist’s talk and cocktail time.

If you can’t make it, recall what Pardo says about color and perhaps catch him wandering through the Matisse exhibit at the IMA. He says he’s a fan.