Light Show at the Hayward Gallery

-This exhibition is now closed-

The Light Show at the Hayward Gallery is absolutely spectacular and one of the year’s first must-see exhibitions. Developed to showcase the use of light as a medium in art from the 1960s onwards, the Light Show features room after room of fascinating, beautiful and baffling installations.

The show opens with Leo Villareal’s Cylinder II, a succession of vertical rods covered in LEDs, making a magnificent tower of sparkling light in constantly changing rythym. In the same room, David Batchelor’s Magic Hour repurposes neon lights from the Las Vegas strip to create a sort of modern-day, synthetic sunset.

Other installations have a fabulously disorienting effect, such as Conrad Shawcross’s Slow Arc inside a Cube, a swinging light bulb in the middle of a geometric cage which casts moving shadows on the walls and gives the sensation of being in a moving ship. In Carlos Cruz-Diez’s Chromosaturation, a series of three rooms flushed consecutively with blue, green and red light, the walls and corners seem to disappear as the viewer’s eyes adjust to the transition between one colour and the next. Olafur Eliasson seems to be making time stop with his Model for a timeless garden, in which a series of small water fountains is illuminated by strobe lighting and jets of water seem to be frozen temporarily in mid air. My favourite installation is Anthony McCall’s You and I, Horizontal, a projected 3D cone of light which, as the viewer walks through, morphs into a ghostly, intangible sculpture.

The most delightful thing about this show is that the installations always have an immediate sensory effect. At every turn the viewer’s eye is forced to react to a brand new sensation. If viewing art is ever hard work, this is certainly not the case at the Light Show, evidenced on my visit by the many delighted children and parents enjoying this unique and unerringly cool exhibition.

The Light Show is open until 28 April and advance booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.

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