Hayward Gallery switches on at South Bank with exhibition of light in contemporary art

By Mark Sheerin | 05 February 2013

Exhibtion preview: Light Show, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, until April 28 2013

Photo of a constellation of LED lights in a darkened space
Jim Campbell is among the 22 artists taking part in Light Show© Jim Campbell / haywardlightshow.co.uk

After last year’s show of invisible art, Hayward follows it up with something less than material.

There are 22 artists in the current exhibition, all working with light. The results are said to be stimulating, immersive and at times disorientating.

Illusion may have been a quality in art since man first tried to represent the world around him. But artists who work with light have also found radical new ways to trick the eye.

This show offers the chance to pick out figures from Jim Campbell’s flickering LEDs, plus the chance to marvel at Olafur Eliasson’s strobelit fountains. This could have been an apolitical show since it takes rare skill to combine social comment with the gee whizz factor.

But enter a narrow cubicle of endless height and depth, and you’ll be experiencing Iván Navarro’s comment on the Chilean dictatorship of the 70s and 80s. Jenny Holzer is also good value for a few ticker tape maxims.

Given that art has always liked to dazzle with stained glass, gold leaf, and so on, light is a medium for purists.

Electric light is a bag of tricks which arrived quite late in the history of art. That discipline may expand at every turn in the current show.

  • Open 10am-6pm (12pm-6pm Monday, 8pm Thursday and Friday). Tickets £7.50-£11. Book tickets and visit the show online. Follow the gallery online @southbankcentre and use the hashtag #HAYWARDLIGHT.

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