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A review by Pauline Flannery for EXTRA! EXTRA!




Light Show


David Batchelor - Magic Hour

Curated by Dr Cliff Lauson

Hayward Gallery

30 January – 28 April 2013


Let there be light as illumination, as artefact, as art. Light Show, the first survey of its kind, at the Hayward Gallery, is extraordinary. It features over twenty international artists, spanning five decades from the ‘60’s to the present day. It both delights and disturbs the senses.

Each light installation or sculpture,provokes a response from the simplistic ‘splat’ on the floor, like spilt  paint, achieved by a single theatrelight with metal gobo, in Throw, 1997, by British artist Ceal Floyer to the huge Corinthian columns emitting heat in an ever-changing pattern of light, which mimics breathing, in S-U-P-E-R-S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-E, 2010, by CerithWyn Evan. Both occupy the same elevated section. Between them lies one of the many stand-alone light sculptures, Lamentable, 2006, by French artist Francois Morellet, a series of blue neon arcs which are a broken circle – best appreciated at a distance. And there you have it: life, light and show in microcosm.

The Hayward is a natural theatre space with its huge cavernous feel and anonymous walls.Theopen-plan ground floor houses American artist Leo Villareal’s Cylinder 11, 2012, a complexity of white LEDs, which vary in speed and intensity towards the ground. Beyond it on the lower section lies British artist David Batchelor’sMagic Hour,2004 – 2007,with its hint of ‘LA sunsets’ and languid coloured interchange. From a distance, it looks like some monstrous computer mother-board, up close it’s a collection of back-to-front recycled light boxes which seem to cleave to the wall.



Conrad Shawcross - Slow Arc Inside a Cube IV


It is through this almost casual juxtaposition that curator Dr Cliff Lauson creates a series of dialogues between exhibits to offer a spatial, as well asaesthetic, sensory experience. The simplicity of Throw links to the playful ‘punning’ of Bill Culvert’s Bulb Box Reflection II, 1975 or Fischli and Weiss Son etLumiere, 1990. Yet the huge immersive installations, such as Doug Wheeler’s Untitled, 1969, and fellow American James Turrell’sWedgeworks V, 1974, are thrilling in their plays on perception, perspective, colour or its absence.

It’s worth spending time ‘in’ these, if for no other reason than to orientate yourself, as the eyes need time to adjust. This is perhaps, the most singular pleasure of Light Show -  you have to adjust your way of looking at things. Light becomes enlightenment in interplay between distance and intimacy or immersion. Some pieces demand you intervene, such as Chilean artist Ivan Navarro’s Reality Show, 2010, with its stunning multiple imaging, one-way mirrors and creative shafts of light, in a space no bigger than a telephone box. Some immerse you in a vertiginous theatrical experience as participant and audience, likeConrad Shawcross’ Slow Arc Inside a Cube IV, 2009or Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diaz, Chromosaturation, 1965 – 2013, in which coloured filters act upon theskin. Some leave you reeling, such as Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson’s, Model of a Timeless Garden, 2011, with its twenty seven fountains and strobe lighting, where the sound of running water is disrupted by the rapidly pulsating light, which makes the water appear frozen in a series of arcs. In contrast,  Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssen’s Rose, 2007, is an installation with spotlights and artificial haze which creates a leaf-print or a foot-print in an orange/pink-hue, very soporific.

Light Show is subversive, its simple title, double-edged. It is transgressive, illusionary, illuminating; it is a metaphor for wisdom, knowledge….”And God said, Let there be light: and there was light//And God saw the light, and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness”….



Ann Veronica Janssens _Rose
30/1 – 28/4 2013

Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

Visitor Information and tickets

Tickets from £11 with concessions

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