Recently I had the opportunity to visit the exhibition everyone has been talking about in London: "Light show” at the Hayward Gallery. Conceived as a summary of the top works that define artificial light-based art in the UK, the collection displays 25 light-based installations, dating from 1960 to the present day.
It is the first time such a collection, as extensive in size and comprehensive in quality, has reached the general public. But it is also intriguing to see how light manages to arise such interest: there are long queues to visit the gallery, many positive reviews have been published, there is a myriad of "whoa"s and "oh"s filling the exhibition space.
The Hayward Gallery has a long track of putting up experiential shows - and this time, they have even gone beyond the bar they set themselves on what a mesmerizing exhibition is. The theatrical feel that dominates the exhibition is overwhelming - I have to say, even physically overwhelming. After some of the pieces you feel deeply touched - your skin with goose bumps, your eyes blinking, your head feeling lighter and lighter, your legs trembling. “Light Show” is a fantastic reminder on how deeply light is connected to our primitive, emotional selves. And you don’t have to be a "light professional" to enjoy it; this is a show for all, from the art-novice who loves a great experience to the designer who wants to get inspired in how to inspire.
Leo Villareal, Cylinder II
Anthony McCall, You and I, Horizontal Solid Light Installation
Brigitte Kowanz, Light Steps
Although the show contains so many relevant artworks that it could function as a masterclass on the subject of artificial light in art - everything from the masters like Dan Flavin and Bill Culbert, to the most recent names as Leo Villareal, not forgetting classics as Olafur Eliasson, James Turrell or Anthony McCall - there is always a personal affection that one develops towards particular pieces. In my case, that were Brigitte Kowanz and her very subtle study on how light affects perception of the space around us, Cerith Wyn Evans with his sculpture joining the pleasure of what is seen and what is felt, and Jim Campbell, who manages to elevate a very simple concept into an exquisite experience by means of an excellently crafted execution.
In case you're interested (and I insist, if you love all things beautiful, you should), don't forget to buy tickets in advance.
Ann Veronica Janssens, Rose
* The exhibition opens from 30 January 2013 until 28 April 2013 at the Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XZ. You can download the exhibition guide here.