Art Review: Mariko Mori – Rebirth @ Royal Academy

There’s something about bright lights and white surroundings that fill us with hope, whether it be passing into the afterlife, the break of dawn on the horizon or a science fiction future. Mariko Mori integrates this optimism into her works in this spiritual exhibition.

This show looks at her works across various media, and though her paintings would look more at home on a screensaver than in a gallery, it’s the installations that are the star attractions. All of her creations are based around light and their pulses are linked to occurrences in our solar system, like the emission of neutrinos from the sun; this ensures a randomness that gives her work a natural rather than mechanical feel.

In Transcircle a circle of small stones glow with different colours and at varying levels of brightness like a hypnotic orchestra of light. White Hole comforts viewers with a small source of light tracing across a screen, when it disappears there is a sense of feeling lost before it re-appears – it’s strange how we felt attached to a light so much that we’d miss it in its momentary absence.

Our favourite piece is arguably Mori’s most famous work, a giant monolith that pulsates with light from within. With its clean lines and white outer shell it resembles a menhir from a futuristic Stonehenge.  The light patterns are a clear reference to the beginning and end of life yet it’s easy to while away time observing the light as it moves around while dimming and brightening in this mesmeric ballet.

The message about life and death in Mori’s work has been done many times over but her works are much more uplifting and the sculptures engage with the viewer on a primal level, which makes for a captivating exhibition.

Mariko Mori – Rebirth is on display at the Royal Academy of Arts until 17 February. Tickets are £10 for adults, concessions available.

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