Blind Light - Antony Gormley At The Hayward Gallery London

By Rose Shillito | 16 May 2007
Photo shows white room with figures standing inside and outside in varying shades of visibility

Blind Light, 2007. Courtesy of the artist and Jay Jopling / White Cube, LondonPhoto: © Stephen White

An exciting and ambitious new exhibition showcasing the formidable talents of one of Britain’s foremost and best-known living sculptors – the artist behind such iconic works as the Angel of the North in Gateshead and Another Place in Crosby – opens this week.

Antony Gormley: Blind Light is showing at Hayward Gallery until 19 August 2007 and represents the first major London showing of Antony Gormley’s work.

The exhibition features a series of brand new monumental works specially conceived for the Hayward’s distinctive gallery spaces, which take Gormley’s work in a radical new direction.

It also includes one of the largest ever urban public art commissions, Event Horizon, which features 31 sculptural casts of the artist’s body placed on rooftops and public walkways across central London.

For this exhibition, Gormley has created a series of spectacular newly commissioned works that take the human form as their starting point but abstract the figure to the limits of readability.

Opening the show is Space Station, a colossal six-metre high steel mass weighing 22 tonnes, which from various vantage points in the gallery reveals itself as the human form curled into the foetal position.

The work is illuminated solely by the glow from Blind Light (2007), a luminous glass room filled with dense mist. From the outside, you can observe people vanish as they enter the brightly lit room and are enveloped by the mist, eventually emerging as shadows as they come close to its walls. Inside, you can lose yourself in light and vapour, with visibility down to as little as two feet.

Photo shows room with metal rods hanging down from ceiling and jutting up from floor

Hatch, 2007. Courtesy of the artist and Jay Jopling / White Cube, London. Photo: © Stephen White

The interactive experience continues with Hatch (2007), a room containing a three-dimensional maze of projecting aluminium tubes which visitors can enter. From outside the room, visitors can look through the hollow tube which creates a fractured, kaleidoscopic view of the interior.

This is described by Gormley: “Hatch is a kind of maze – a field in three dimensions through which you can make your bodily way but also see out and be seen.”

Photo shows boxes of different sizes piled up behind a wall

Allotment II, 1996. Courtesy of the artist and Jay Jopling / White Cube, LondonPhoto: © Stephen White

The monumental Allotment 11 (1996) comprises 300 life-size units made from reinforced concrete – all derived from the dimensions of real people aged between 18 months and 80 years. Each rectangular “room” represents the smallest space capable of sheltering one of these human bodies.

As Gormley explains: “Each one is different. The difference really matters, particularly with the children. You begin to see the eager ones, the sad ones.”

Photo shows white room with black figures of people stretched out into the corners of the room

Drawn, 2000/07. Courtesy of the artist and Jay Jopling / White Cube, LondonPhoto: © Stephen White

Drawn comprises a room containing eight identical figures that, with arms together and legs open, are cornered at different angles on the ceiling and floor. Speaking of their relationship to the room, Gormley says: “Not being sure which way is up hopefully puts the viewer into free-fall and loosens the boundaries of certainty. The gravity adds to the lever effect, hopefully making the viewer more uncertain about his or her position in space.”

Don’t forget to head up to the Hayward’s three sculpture terraces where the life-size figures of Event Horizon can be viewed dramatically punctuating the city’s skyline over a 1.5 sq km area.

Also on show is a spectacular series of suspended figures created in light-infused webs of steel, and selected works from the past three decades.

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