Walking along the Southbank in London, an alternative to the infamous Tate Modern is the Hayward Gallery. The gallery itself is part of the London Southbank centre‘s group of venues, such as the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, which both host leading classical music events. However, despite its modest exterior, the Hayward Gallery celebrates its 50th year of presenting captivating contemporary art exhibitions.
This month, I went to their current exhibition titled: Space Shifters, which is a collection of art installations from leading 20 contemporary artists (such as Anish Kapoor and Yayoi Kusama) that delve into the concept of perception, space and sculpture. Going through the exhibition, there’s a heavy emphasis on minimalism and the clever use of reflective or distorting materials that change the viewer’s outlook of their surroundings.
The second room of the gallery shows Alicja Kwade’s interactive installation, in which the visitor walks through a maze of geometric structures with intermittent mirrors and objects. The use of mirrors makes you question the reality of the space and gives an illusion of people disappearing and reappearing when they walk behind the mirrored walls.
Various other highlights include: Yayoi Kusuma‘s Narcissus Garden where the the viewer is surrounded by a room full of reflective orbs (so their reflection is constantly in view), Anish Kapoor‘s Sky Mirror, Blue which reflects and distorts the sky with a surreal, saturated blue hue and Fred Eversley‘s Parabolic Lens, which acts as a magnifying glass and filter for whatever the spectator looks at.
Lastly, the most spectacular installation was Richard Wilson‘s 20:50, in which he’s filled the entire room with engine oil leaving only a narrow, dead-ended path for the viewer to walk through. The use of oil gives a highly reflective surface which leaves the viewer with an unsettling, quiet and still perception of the room as the path only allows for one person to pass at a time.
Overall, if you’ve seen the Tate Modern countless times and are looking for an alternative contemporary art gallery, I would definitely check out the Hayward Gallery, especially while this exhibition is on. If you spend a few hours visiting, you’re still in the heart of London and can explore nearby sites within a few minutes walk.