When Forms Come Alive

Steve Russell

(UK)

Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
7 February 2024 – 6 May 2024

When Forms Come Alive, curated by gallery director, Ralph Rugoff, spans over sixty years of contemporary art, featuring twenty-one international artists. Direct representation is mostly avoided, they transform and distort form. The works can be mind-bending, thoughtful, playful and comedic.

Through the doors of the lower gallery of the Hayward you enter into the underworld of When Forms Come Alive. Stretching above you is Shylights, 2006-2014, a performative sculpture, created by Drift, a Dutch collective. The multiple jellyfish-like forms lower and rise above you.  

On the far side, Bouquet Final, 2012, by Michael Blazy. A blanket of bubbles descends from various troughs on a high wall of scaffolding. They cascade down in slow moving curves and waves, a different composition each day. I was happy to witness a piece break off and slowly, silently descend to the ground. Untitled (Mylar), 2011, by Tara Donovan, has used thousands of flat, reflective Mylar discs in creating this large-scale piece. This sci-fi crop of reflective spheres fill a large space, they appear restless and are fluttering with life.

In a darkened gallery, A Subsequent Offering, 2017, by EJ Hill is a work I returned to several times, it’s based on a roller coaster, you cannot ride it but it’s very meditative and calming. I found walking into the space relaxing and mind clearing. For the first presentation of this piece the artist lay in the centre of the installation, all day, for several days, I can see why. 

Above ground in the upper gallery, x 3 Untitled, 1958, 1960-63, 1990, by Ruth Asawa, hanging sculpture. Three different stages of development using basket-weaving techniques learnt from craftsmen in Mexico. There is a serenity and an orderliness about these intricate hanging pieces, the light passing through the wire forms casting wonderful shadows. Sottobosco, 2024. This clever window length, nature inspired, and not at all random placing of industrial materials by Holly Hendry brings the Southbank in and sends the Hayward out. Linking inside out, outside in. Further into the upper gallery, Epiphanie an Stühlen (Epiphany on Chairs), 2011, by Franz West is a large scale pink and funny work, there are two chairs below this sizable piece to help you contemplate the meaning, if any, of his sculpture.

An abstract, lively, playful and entertaining experience. The forms are constantly in conversation with each other, challenging you to look closely and check what you think you’ve seen, but form is not always what it seems.

Ecology When Forms Come Alive 02 Ruth Asawa
Ecology When Forms Come Alive 04 Tara Donovan Untitled Mylar 2011
Ecology When Forms Come Alive 03 EJ Hill

Steve Russell

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

Steve Russell, artist. Dealing with issues of self, identity and symbols through the medium of paint, ephemera and other drawing materials. My practice is a figurative style that marries diverse elements into an instantly recognizable, idiosyncratic idiom that is at times touching, dramatic and visceral. Using line and dramatically visceral expressive colour, I produce images that manage to be optimistic and intriguing, even in seemingly mundane or problematic contexts.

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