Forms come alive at the Hayward Gallery

Artists are always trying to break the boundaries of form in their work. This exhibition goes beyond boundaries as sculptures ooze, solids become liquid and forms come alive.

Spanning more than 60 years of contemporary sculpture, the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre in Belvedere Road, is hosting an exhibition which hones in on movement and growth.

Inspired by sources ranging from a dancer’s gesture to the breaking of a wave, from a flow of molten metal to the interlacing of a spider’s web, the artworks in When Forms Come Alive conjure fluid and shifting creations.

Installation view of Studio DRIFT, Michel Blazy and Olaf Brzeski, When Forms Come Alive (Picture: Jo Underhill, courtesy the Hayward)

As you enter the exhibition, lamp shades dance across the ceiling, their skirt-like exterior billowing outwards before closing again around a central bulb in a piece named Studio Drift.

Further into the gallery, a sculpture by Tara Donovan appears at first glance to be a spawning, modular structure. But upon closure inspection its spherical components fold inwards, created by folded metal sheets reflecting light from all angles.

The structure looks like it is alive, moving in front of you. But a step closer and it becomes unmistakably two dimensional, its gray sheen flattening out its edges.

Installation view of EJ Hill, When Forms Come Alive (Picture: Jo Underhill, courtesy the Hayward Gallery)

The ideas aren’t new – sculptors have been turning stone into silk since the 17th century – but many of the pieces create illusions that will make your brain scramble.

Many of the works Hayward director Ralph Rugoff has collected for the exhibition are playful.

While they show artists depicting movement and form, many subvert a sense of pretension often associated with sculpture. Some more obviously than others.

A pink blob hangs in the corner of one room. Almost like something a child has made out of paper mache with trumpet-like extensions pulling out from its sides.

It could be a virus or a planet, or a pea impaled by nails.

Installation view of Franz West and Nairy Baghramian, When Forms Come Alive (Picture: Jo Underhill, courtesy the Hayward Gallery)

Below the sculpture are chairs for people to sit and contemplate the effect this suspended pink mass has on them. 

Undulating, drooping and erupting these sculptures are hard to look away from. But not to be taken too seriously.

The exhibition features work by 21 international artists including Ruth Asawa, Nairy Baghramian, Phyllida Barlow, Lynda Benglis, Michel Blazy, Paloma Bosquê, Olaf Brzeski, Choi Jeong Hwa, Tara Donovan, DRIFT, Eva Fàbregas, Holly Hendry, EJ Hill, Marguerite Humeau, Jean-Luc Moulène, Senga Nengudi, Ernesto Neto, Martin Puryear, Matthew Ronay, Teresa Solar Abboud and Franz West.

The exhibition – supported by the Henry Moore Foundation and Fluxus Art Projects – will run at the Hayward Gallery until May 6.

Pictured top: Tara Donovan, Untitled (Mylar), 2011-2018, which is at the Hayward show (Picture: Claudia Lee)

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