Before you read anything we have to say about the Hayward Gallery’s latest exhibition it’s definitely worth heading straight over to their website and getting hold of a ticket. Light Show is already one of the most hotly-tipped exhibitions of the year (much like Rain Room in 2012) and getting hold of tickets is fast becoming problematic. But rest assured there’s good reason for all the hype as it’s arguably one of the best shows we’ve had the pleasure of visiting in the last year at least.
Light Show explores the last 50 years of the use of artificial lighting in contemporary art, taking in big names and famous works by the likes of Jenny Holzer and Fischli and Weiss alongside pieces previously unseen in the UK by stellar modern practitioners like Olafur Eliasson. The variety of work on display is exemplary and covers everything from one-off small works experimenting with mirrors and domestic lightbulbs to large-scale immersive installations that distort your perception of space and, the longer you spend in them, time.
What’s particularly pleasing about Light Show is how fresh the work feels. Even the oldest pieces on display still have the power to captivate the viewer completely, tapping into our primordial fascination with luminescence and the thrill of being deceived. In fact much of the work experiments with the fallibility of our senses, warping and distorting constructed spaces with complex ocular tricks.
Though there’s a multitude of extraordinary works on display, personal highlights came in the form of Model for a timeless garden by Olafur Eliasson, a bewildering display of water pumps and strobe lights and Slow Arc Inside a Cube IV by Conrad Shawcross that creates a fluctuating projection of isometric grids across the room. Both are utterly captivating and had us staring at them slack-jawed while numerous other gallery visitors came and went.
In short, see this show. It’s an absolute belter!
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