Space Shifters is one of the shiniest art shows you are ever likely to see. It is on at the Hayward art Gallery until 6th January 2019 and is well worth a look. It plays with the ideas of mirrors and optics. In case you are wondering the glamorous gentleman in the mirrors above, is me. Bean bags are not my natural habitat. The show has works by a variety of people, the shiny quality being the unifying feature.
The mirror shown above, rotates slowly. It is the work of Jeppe Hain and is called 360 degree Illusion V, which is not the most gripping of names but the piece is oddly gripping. As it rotates, the mirrors reflect the room and of course each other so different aspects of the room, and the people watching are revealed as it tumbles slowly around. It is a hypnotic relaxing experience.
Up the ramp and through Daniel Steegmann Mangrane's chain link curtains and you encounter what is basically a small mirror maze, brought to us by Alicja Kwade (above left and right). The clever part of this though is as the photo hopefully shows there are similar objects sitting opposite each other. In this case a rock. They are different in colour so as you move the image of one eclipses and replaces the image of the other. In the example above left, the gold is being swapped for the green. Off course not all the objects are separated by mirrors. All of this makes it an entrancing and intriguing experience to walk round. This is helped by the fact you can walk round and through it. People love being able to see themselves (myself included).
In fact because you can orbit and in some cases walk through the art works makes for a stronger more personal experience. The lights and images shift as you move and you appear and disappear in many of the pieces. Sometimes in multiple as in the large cluster of shiny silver balls by Yayoi Kusama (above left and right). Little avenues and paths take you through and round these enormous baubles as they reflect the light from above, each other and of course, you. The Hayward gallery is quite a good venue for this show, and indeed it has been well laid out around the gallery space, allowing you to view many of the exhibits from different heights and vantage points. You can look down on the shiny balls from the stairwell, which frames them nicely (above right).
I find coloured glass and resin very attractive and very calming. I liked therefore very much this purple parabolic mirror by Fred Eversley (above). It is fact made of polyester. Whatever it is made from I find it a very calming and satisfying presence. I like the way the colours change with the density of the object and of course the image that is displayed through it, as though there is another, purplish world, through it.
In the same room and in the same photo, seen to the right was another mini glass maze. This one was the work of Larry Bell. It is made of darkened frosted grey glass, alternating with clear glass, to give a slightly bewildering and disorientating experience. As with most of these exhibits, interaction is key. This really is a show that rewards attendance. It is another example though of what I call the gallerification of art. Contemporary art is all about this really. You can't have these at home, or a private space. Not really. They are designed to be displayed and interacted with somewhere public. I am not sure how I feel about this as a concept. That being said I really enjoyed the show.
Back to the theme of shiny resin, this time in the form of four different coloured columns brought to us by Helen Pashgian (above left and right). She also appears elsewhere in the show but these were my favourites. I like the solidity of them. Particularly with the furthest three (seen in the above right picture), the changing density of colour is very good and this is something that resin does very well. Pashgian has lit each one internally with a differently orientated light source so all of them gloss in a different way. Most satisfying.
Reflective, different coloured, crazed perspex slabs are the work of of Ann Veronica Janssens (above). I don't really think they need much more explanation. They are what they are. They play well off the rest of the show and the people wandering past. Also the way the wall is set up with that dark slit at the bottom really adds to these pieces. Whether intentional or not, that was a good move. In person they are slightly flecked with gold.
You may have seen in the background to other photos, different shaped mirrors. I vaguely wondered what the point of these where as although the shapes were interesting they were a bit dull. Then I discovered that one of them had sprouted legs and was dancing around. They are the work of Josiah McElheny (above). You may be able to make out lines marked on the floor. These designated the dancers path. There is also a non mirror encumbered dancer who interacts with the mirror dancer. You can see her here posed on the floor. For me the main interest all this provided was the different angles that the moving mirror through up. of the other exhibits. Would be a it dull on its own.
Incidentally the gold coat hangers are the work of Leonor Antunes. They are gold, they hang, they shine, the rotate slowly in the breeze. What more do you want?
Also in the same room was a solitary perspex pole, not actually a pole but a three pointed vertical object by Robert Irwin (above in front of the dancer). The squat circular blue thing at the back is a glass sculpture by Roni Horn, which has the glowy perspexy thing that I like and you can just see in the right hand corner a wedged shape black monolith, the work of De Wain Valentine.
However the main thing of interest is that golden, flowing curtain at the back of the room. It shines, it tinkles, it delights and it is gold. It is the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres and most satisfyingly you have to brush through it, to get to the rest of the show. I enjoyed that.
The show also takes you outside. Through a large slit window (that reminded me of military pill boxes), was a very large, blue parabolic mirror. This mirror reflected for our delight the sky above. It is of course the work of Anish Kapoor and this, in my view is the kind of stuff he does best (above). Large, statement, public sculptural pieces. It is very hypnotic and the parabolic nature tricks your eyes into thinking the image is rotating slowly, although it isn't. The work has the title Sky MIrror, Blue, a name that comes from the Ronseal school. It is however, very impressive and very good.
Off that room was Richard Wilson's vat of oil. It was for many years in the basement of the Saatchi gallery (it may in fact still be) and I have seen it before many times. It has a strange smell. There was a queue and a wait of some 30 minutes to go in and see it so I passed it by.
has the very pretentious name of Non-Object door but is in fact, just a four sided fun house mirror. Circus for the pretentious. There were a few other pieces that didn't make it in here but that's because I found them a bit dull. The show is on until 6th January 2019 and is well worth seeing. I shall leave you with my favourite piece. Oh and I have a show coming up on 19th November at Beans Love Greens in Shoreditch. More details in due course.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.