The Magic Hour

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Bring me home, please

This morning i went to the press view of the exhibition i was most looking forward to this month: Light Show at the Hayward Gallery. The exhibition explores the experiential and phenomenal aspects of light by bringing together sculptures and installations that use light to sculpt and shape space in different ways. It's not just an exhibition of bulbs and luminosity, it's about colour, volumes, spatial perception, natural phenomena recreated using technology, kinetic and even politics. The artworks were created from the 1960s to the present by big -very big- names: Olafur Eliasson, Dan Flavin, Jenny Holzer, Jim Campbell, Philippe Parreno, Anthony McCall and Conrad Shawcross but some artists were new to me. Such as the brilliant David Batchelor.

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Leo Villareal, Cylinder II and David Batchelor, Magic Show. Hayward Gallery installation shot by Linda Nylind

As he explains in this video, Batchelor is interested in the colours that you find rather than the ones that you make. So he's been picking up discarded light boxes that typically advertise shops and restaurants (and that, he says, are one of the main sources of colour in a city), cleaned them up and mounted them to form a tall sculpture he called Magic Hour. The colours emanating from the light boxes are glowing against the wall and the public only see their reflection shining back at them.

The text in the exhibition guide states: Magic Hour is named for the extraordinary spectacle of light - a mix of sunset colours and the glow from artificial lights - that transforms the twilight sky above Las Vegas. This back-to-front stack of recycled light boxes, which once advertised shops and fast-food outlets, radiates a halo of multicolored luminance.

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David Batchelor, Magic Hour, 2004-05. Photo courtesy Happy Famous Artists

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David Batchelor, Magic Hour, 2004-05. Photo courtesy Happy Famous Artists

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David Batchelor, Magic Hour, 2004-05. Photo courtesy Happy Famous Artists

Magic Hour is stunning. You can't help but wonder if the 'recto', the side where all the lightboxes are glowing, can be as appealing as the rough, all wires and dark panels side you are facing. Probably not.

That's it for today, i'll get back to you shortly with a proper review of the exhibition. Light Show opens tomorrow at the Hayward Gallery in London. It will remain open until 28 April 2013.

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