Towner Art Gallery is delighted to present A Certain Kind of Light: Light in Art Over Six Decades, a major new exhibition exploring how artists have responded to light, its materiality, transience and effect. Reflecting the relationship between light and a range of other themes, from brightness, colour and perception to transformation, energy and the passage of time, the exhibition brings together paintings, sculpture, video, photography, drawing and installations. Works by almost thirty leading artists including David Batchelor, Ceal Floyer, Raphael Hefti, Shirazeh Housiary, Gary Hume, Runa Islam, Anish Kapoor, L S Lowry, Julian Opie, Katie Paterson, Peter Sedgley, Mark Titchner, Rachel Whiteread and Cerith Wyn Evans are featured, selected from the Arts Council Collection, Towner’s collection and private loans.
As the basis for vision, light has long fascinated artists as both tangible material and subject. Lowry’s delicate play with light in his empty, ephemeral Seascape (1965) addresses the consistent challenge within the evolution of landscape painting to capture the effects of natural light. This painting, controversial at the time for its apparent lack of subject matter, contrasts with other artworks from the 1960s and 1970s by Peter Lanyon and Peter Sedgley who utilised artificial light to produce dynamic colour transformations.
The importance of artificial light as a source of illumination and as primary artistic material is also highlighted in works by David Batchelor, Julian Opie, Angela Bullock and Mark Titchner, while sculptural work by Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread harnesses, absorbs or reflects light to activate the surrounding space. Whiteread’s semi-translucent resin casts, which render negative space into solid form connect with Runa Islam’s Stare Out (Blink) (1998), her playful experimentation with the positive-negative image and the illusory nature of film.
Whilst artists have always been intrigued and inspired by light, more conceptual approaches in the last twenty years have adapted the energy of light into other forms to articulate singular impressions of time and space. Cerith Wyn Evans’s Diary: How to improve the world (you will only make matters worse) continued 1968 (revised) from ‘M’ writings 67-72 by John Cage (2003), uses a crystal chandelier to convey a Morse code translation of Cage’s writings; Ceal Floyer’s Light (1994), presents a solitary unconnected bulb lit up from four sides by slide projectors; Totality (2015) stages Katie Paterson’s immersive installation featuring a large rotating planet-like mirror ball that illuminates a room with tiny projected images of nearly every solar eclipse documented by humankind; and Mark Garry’s large-scale thread installation reveals rainbow-hued graphic abstractions, visible only when the visitor moves around the gallery.
A Certain Kind of Light is the first exhibition curated by Towner from the Arts Council Collection for the National Partners Programme, following the recent presentation of the touring exhibition, One Day Something Happens.
Jill Constantine, Head of the Arts Council Collection said, “A Certain Kind of Light is an exciting exhibition and will appeal to all ages. It demonstrates the ambitious and imaginative approach of the curatorial team at Towner Art Gallery. Light in contemporary art is a fascinating premise and I’m delighted to see so many works from the Arts Council Collection being used to such great effect in this show.”
Artists in the exhibition: Roger Ackling, David Batchelor, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Angela Bulloch, Garry Fabian-Miller, Ceal Floyer, Mark Garry, Raphael Hefti, Shirazeh Houshiary, Gary Hume, Runa Islam, Anish Kapoor, Peter Lanyon, Brad Lochore, L S Lowry, Elizabeth Magill, Ivan Navarro, Julian Opie, Katie Paterson, John Riddy, Peter Sedgley, Mark Titchner, Rachel Whiteread, Paul Winstanley, Cerith Wyn Evans and Toby Ziegler.
Towner Art Gallery is an Arts Council Collection National Partner. The Arts Council Collection is managed by Southbank Centre, London on behalf of Arts Council England.