Southbank Centre in London is a complex of venues dedicated to artistic activities. One of these venues is The Hayward Gallery that is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year. The major group exhibition “Space Shifters” that has opened for public on the 26th of September is showing artworks from these 50 years period.
20 international artists join for showing sculptures, kinetic sculptures and another kind of art installations, all of which trick our sense of space in some ways.
“Space Shifters” is one of the most “visitor friendly” exhibitions I visited in 2018. The viewer is literally a part of art here as many of the works would lose its meaning without a human reflection on it or at least someone questioning if what is being seen is real…
You can find works by world-renowned artists like Anish Kapoor’s “Non-Object(Door)”, 2008, that meets you at the entrance or his more recent “Sky Mirror, Blue”, 2016 concave mirror at the gallery’s outdoor sculpture terrace.
There is also an ongoing installation “Narcissus Garden”, 1966-2018 by Yayoi Kusama, filling one of the halls with mirrored spheres and this way creating a reflective field where Narcissus would definitely feel satisfied.
Another exhibition highlight is a sump oil and steel installation called “20:50”, 1987 by Richard Wilson. It was the second time I saw it and in a different space but it confused me just the same as the first time a few years ago. It does not matter that it is scientifically explained how the engine oil creates this impeccable reflecting surface. The feeling of walking into kind of a void / in the middle of nowhere space is unique: amazing and frightening at the same time.
My personal favorite artwork at the “Space Shifters” was a sculptural installation by Alicja Kwade called “WeltenLinie”, 2017. The installation consists of perfectly calculated locations for each object, so while walking around, you experience a color/space-shift where the rocks morph and your reflection disappears and appears on the separating walls which are mirrors at times and translucent glass or empty frame at other moments.
The exhibition is very busy all hours every day so it is recommended to go with more time in order to be able to enjoy some of these pieces. I walked through all of it without stopping at the artworks that had people around and then reviewed it again from the end this way getting a better view of the sculptures that were surrounded by crowds the first try.
If you go in the morning, the Southbank Concrete Café at the lower level Queen Elizabeth Hall is a very cool place for a coffee. The nice people working there told me that it is packed in the afternoons as it serves as an entrance and meeting point for the music hall.
For more information Space Shifters