Mavericks and savants make up Hayward Gallery's Alternative Guide to the Universe

By Culture24 Reporter | 17 June 2013

Exhibition preview: Alternative Guide to the Universe, Hayward Gallery, London, until August 26 2013

An image of an intricate colourful painting of a city
Marcel Storr, Untitled (1973)© Marcel Storr
Few artists in history can have had the ambition of Marcel Storr, who believed his delicate drawings would be the blueprint for a rebuilt post-nuclear Paris, or Guo Fengyi, who saw hers as “painted prescriptions” with restorative powers.

Subheaded “Hayward goes wayward”, gallery director Ralph Rugoff’s new exhibition is, he says, a display of “brilliant mavericks”.

“They expand the spaces in which our own imaginative thinking about the world may venture,” he says.

“However far-fetched or outlandish it may seem, their work possesses an intensity and bracing originality that gives it a compelling reality all its own.

“It invites us to think outside of our conventional categories, and ultimately to question our definitions of ‘normal’ art and science."

Among those concerns, street artist Rammellzee wanted his Letter Racers to liberate the alphabet from western designs.

George Widener – a “numerical savant”, no less – aimed to bedazzle machines by weaving complex mathematical puzzles into his drawings.

Paul Laffoley used his works to outline a few alternative theories of consciousness, while Karl Hans Janke’s quest went in pursuit of universal energy.

Even if their boggling ambitions might never be achieved, these are wild, eccentric and beautiful works.

They’re accompanied by an exhibition from the Museum of Everything in the Project Space, dotted with sculptures, photos and films on the life of Nek Chand, a builder and sculptor who has spent more than 50 years forming a 20-acre Rock Garden out of scrap materials in India.

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