ACMI lights up with art from the UK's Tate

·2-min read

Anyone craving sunlight this winter may find what they are looking for at a new exhibition in Melbourne, dedicated to the idea of light.

The UK's Tate has shared more than 70 of its artworks - including by J. M. W. Turner, Constable and Kandinsky - for the show at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

Light: Works from Tate's Collection looks at how some of the world's most renowned artists have harnessed light through painting, photography and sculpture over the past 200 years.

It takes ACMI's study of light and the moving image well beyond the development of film, according to the centre's chief curator Sarah Tutton.

"ACMI has never had works like this here, it's rare to see Turners and Constables in Australia, and is particularly rare for us to see them at ACMI, so that was really exciting for us," she told AAP.

The exhibition includes Turner's monumental 1805 painting The Deluge, on show in Australia for the first time.

Turner forms the foundation of the Tate's entire collection, and the institution has more than 30,000 of his works.

While his luminous oils may seem traditional to contemporary viewers, his use of light and colour was radical at the time, and satirical cartoons were even published mocking his methods, Tate curator Matthew Watts told AAP.

"He was so controversial and he copped a lot of flak ... they just gave him such a hard time because of the way he used colour," Mr Watts said.

Yet Turner's innovations run through the exhibition, there are plenty of contemporary works concerned not just with the depiction of light, but its use as a medium.

Even Icelandic-Danish installation artist Olafur Eliasson cites Turner's experiments with light and colour as an influence, according to Mr Watts.

A show-stopping installation by Eliasson, a monumental reflective globe, is suspended from ACMI's ceiling for the show.

2014's Stardust particle has an intricate faceted structure that throws reflections and shadows around the gallery, and changes appearance according to the surrounding light.

The exhibition also includes the likes of John Constable, Wassily Kandinsky and Josef Albers, along with Impressionist painters Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley.

A work that will speak particularly to Melbourne visitors as the cold weather settles in is a large mirrored cube installation by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

Designed to give off the illusion of infinite space when viewers step in for a close look, it is titled The Passing Winter.

Light: Work from Tate's Collection runs from Thursday to November 13 at ACMI in Fed Square.

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