A glistening waterfall and sculpture installation from German contemporary artist Klaus Weber is being presented outside the landmark Hayward Gallery
. The commission, titled Thinking Fountains (2021), continues the Southbank Centres growing programme of free outdoor installations offering visitors and passersby an unexpected opportunity to engage with art.
Animating the Brutalist architecture of the Hayward Gallery, Thinking Fountains features two larger-than-life bronze figures spouting water and a waterfall that cascades down from an elevated walkway. With forms derived from contemporary mannequins, both sculptures are also inspired by historical traditions of portal sculptures that adorned the facades of Gothic cathedrals.
Peacock, one of the two bronze sculptures, is a hybrid human whose hips emit an exuberant jet of water, suggesting a magnificent bird fanning its plumage. At intervals, the cascade of water deluges Peacock, extinguishing its plumes and marking a tension between what Klaus Weber calls gravity and levity. Thinking Fountain, the second figure, assumes a pose of contemplation. A decorative bouquet of water surges upwards from its neck indirectly suggesting the presence of a head - or flowing streams of thought - before falling back to spill down over its bronze body.
Together both sculptures embody the hopes of the artist, Klaus Weber, which is to widen our viewpoint, sharpen our senses and make new connections in our brains.
Thinking Fountains continues a series of artworks that are transforming the Southbank Centre and Hayward Gallery spaces into a lively sculpture park. Thinking Fountains follows the Hayward Gallerys first Bagri Foundation Commission, Samovar (2021) by the art collective Slavs and Tatars, which was recently installed outside the Hayward Gallery.
Klaus Weber says of Thinking Fountains: "The entrance of the Hayward Gallery is rather hidden. As an admirer of this brutalist building, I wanted to install a new artistic element to be seen from further away. One of the great features of Gothic architecture (surely the ancestor of modern Brutalism) are its portal sculptures which frame the giant entrances of abbeys and cathedrals. Likewise, Thinking Fountains forms a welcoming portal, inviting the Hayward Gallerys visitors to enter and join the journey.
Klaus Weber was born in 1967 and is based in Berlin. Weber has had solo exhibitions at Collective, Edinburgh (2018), Nottingham Contemporary (2011), Fondazione Mora Grecco, Naples (2013), the Secession, Vienna (2008) as well as international group exhibitions and biennials, including Lyon Biennale, France (2015) and Manifesta 7, Italy (2007).
Ralph Rugoff, Director at the Hayward Gallery, says: Klaus Webers imaginative commission responds to the unique architecture of the Hayward Gallery, transforming our entrance into a welcoming and playful portal for visitors. Designed to evoke inspired and activated streams of thought and to associate them with our experience of visiting galleries, Webers Thinking Fountains installation ingeniously updates the model of traditional public sculpture in ways that will delight and surprise both Hayward audiences and passers-by alike.