When Forms Come Alive, Hayward Gallery

Oh the lush words “undulating, drooping, erupting, cascading and promiscuously proliferating”, the phrases used by Hayward Gallery to capture the essence of current exhibition When Form Comes Alive. A curated selection of sculpture, challenging the audience to disengage from disembodied digital interactions and rather enjoy moments of motion and sensation IRL. The curated selection of artworks beat, ooze, shake, froth, smoke, gesture all in a unique way, taking on a life of its own and becoming poetic works of gravity.  

Arriving at the exhibition doors, we were greeted with other forms that come alive, four small and cheeky children; whom would be following their parents (and us) in the pursuit of a cultured Sunday activity. Once through the doors and into the void of concrete cubism, our eyes are quickly caught by the soft fluttering of ‘DRIFT’ by Studio DRIFT, rhythmic and harmonic these forms spring from the ceiling, opening, and closing, dancing a unique routine only they know. Their softness and lightness contrasts with the robust architecture, and you feel a shift in energy, with one eye open, alert and in search of movement, we continue through the exhibition.  

Across the other side of the room Michel Blazy’s work, subtly foams and bubbles away. At a glance the large-scale work seems to sit idly still, large and assuming. However once closer, you can see the foam is constantly moving; oozing and frothing over the scaffold; becoming a detergent fuelled creature. Whilst dwelling and gasping and wondering how Blazy created this creature, one can easily miss the work of Olaf Brzeki. A simple tubular chair sits still, draped with a thick block of deep brown rust. I overhear one of the four cheeky children “Look! It looks like a big chocolate bar melting over a chair!”. A static sculpture given the dynamism of melting! How very cool.  

Michel Blazy, Bouquet Final, 2012

Olaf Brzeki, Untitled from Little Orphans Series, 2009

Continuing passed large colourful totem pieces by Choi Jeong Hwa and Teresa Solar Abboud’s gigantic seed-like pods about to take flight, one stumbles across the star attraction. The hero of the show (declared by me) is Tara Donovan’s large bulbous sculpture, multiplying and expanding in a molecular way. The cloud-like form seems to dazzle and dance in the light, a result of the reflective material (Mylar) that Donovan has used crafted into cone shapes in a meticulously repeated pattern.

Tara Donovan, Untitled (Mylar), 2011

We then wandered onto a collection of smaller works by Matthew Ronay and Jean-Luc Moulène, exploring motion through shape and pattern, whilst experimenting with materials in a playful way. A favourite was Jean-Luc Moulène‘s skeletal hand that had been plunged into crystal clear aqua water and frozen in time.

Jean-Luc Moulène, Plongement 1, 2023

Quickly strolled passed the hot pink neon’s of EJ Hill's interpretation of a rollercoaster, not my favourite, but loved by a few. The four cheeky kids reappear to ‘pretend’ ride the rollercoaster, running parallel and shrieking in unison with the undulations of the highs and lows. Which I guess is the response EJ Hill was after?

From here you move upstairs where a mix of works were grouped together, which felt less as impressive as the lower floor. Works that made me gasp in wonder where Franz West’s delicate and bulbous hanging lace forms and Lynda Benglis’ molten metal, leaking and gurgling from a corner of the gallery. The charred wall, a part of Olaf Brzeski’s work also captured my attention as the thick puff of blackened smoke looked ready to engulf the gallery and all of us there.

Lynda Benglis, Power Tower, 2019 and Quartered Meteor, 1969

Eva Fàbregas’s work is the final moment of the exhibition, the pink intestinal like form sits tightly in a room, bursting to make its way out. The sculpture gives you that desperate need to reach out and grab it, to sit on it, squish it and roll all over it – it seems to be vibrating and breathing, like a real life organ. The four cheeky kids have found their way here and are rolling all over the floor, resisting the temptation to jump all over it. “It’s not a playground’ I overheard a fellow gallery-goer moan. In this case, maybe it was!

It was an exciting afternoon, turning each corner wondering what form of motion, what kind of oozing, melting, dancing, shaking would be waiting there for you. A perfect reason to stop and dwell and explore shifting states IRL.

Eva Fàbregas, Pumping, 2019
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March 22, 2023
When Forms Come Alive, Hayward Gallery
Angie Boustred