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Something You Should See… Light Show, Hayward Gallery

Light. We have built pyramids to worship it, sundials to utilise it and, more recently in our relatively short homo sapien history, solar panels to harness and regenerate it. This month at Hayward Gallery, 23 artists heralding from Venezuela to Wales have been brought together for their work with this most essential of natural phenomena. Light Show showcases pivotal works from the past fifty years which investigate light, its properties and its effects. The artists selected for Hayward’s Light Show are those who are considered significant and progressive in their use of the medium. Some shape light, some shape space with light, some shape our perception of space with light. Alongside some of the more established and readily recognisable works (Dan Flavin’s monuments to Minimalism and James Turrell’s dazzling ganzfeld to name but two examples) the exhibition features the products of a whole range of experiments with this most intangible of media. François Morellet’s astoundingly elegant neon tubes rear northwards from the same concrete floor that is blemished with a humorous ‘splat’ shape beamed by Ceal Floyer’s bowed spotlight nearby. Carlos Cruz-Diez has created a glowing pastel paradise, Katie Paterson presents a room filled with moonlight and Olafur Eliasson presents a strobe-lighted water garden which is the pièce de résistance of the show, and really has to be seen to be believed. Here’s a question: what is light if not our perception of it? As Hayward director Ralph Rugoff proclaimed at the opening of the show, ‘in the world of art it takes two to tango’ – these works are about personal encounters and direct experience. Light Show is an exhibition of verbs: you can explore light, feel light, touch it, stand and bathe in it. You can even almost smell light in the heat coming off the crackling filaments in Cerith Wyn Evan’s towers and from the scorching lamps that fill Ann Veronica Janssens’ misty room with rose-coloured sunshine. Our pupils expand and contract as we move in and out of the darkened exhibition spaces, and our ears hum with the sound of projectors and mist generators. Move your body to Hayward and treat your eyes to this wonderland of visual stimuli as soon as possible: when word gets out about this spectacular show, the crowds will come like moths to a flame. Many of the works are interactive, and there may be queues, but let me tell you – without exception, each is worth the wait. (Words: Florence Ritter) Light Show at the Hayward Gallery is on until April 28th. For more info, visit:

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