Concrete at the Hayward Gallery is an exciting and understated space located within the Hayward Southbank building. The name Concrete reflects the bare grey material of the 1960’s brutalist architechture which was prevalent during the time this area of London was being developed. Though the rotating program of artists that they exhibit are brilliant for the space and follow contemporary art trends rather closely, the one downfall that this space suffers from is the fact that it is based within a café/ bar. I am very skeptical about inserting artwork in restaurants, bars, and cafes. Does the work just become decoration? Or is it something “neat” that the patrons notice while enjoying their latte?
Concrete is slightly different though. It is attached to the Southbank Centre and by association is given its contemporary art authority. The good thing about Concrete is that it doesn’t pretend to be what it is not. It is a café/bar that actually has good work on the walls. Dan Graham has a work permanently installed to the outside windows. The current exhibition, Picket, is of James Prevett’s work, tastefully installed to the walls of the space. His one sculptural piece involving segments of two picket fences are connected together by a long cord and plug inserted into each fence segment, bisecting the space in half and leading the viewer to two opposing barriers.
The exhibition is not overhung, nor imposing. The amount of work is perfect for the amount of distraction that is present with all of the exposed wiring on the ceiling to the tables and chairs on the floor. Prevett’s work operates to frame the space and conceptually fence off an area in which it operates and situates its existence in.
-- David Yu
All images taken from Concrete at the Hayward Gallery
Images: Location view of Concrete with Dan Graham work, Installation view of James Prevett work.