Shape Shifters at The Hayward Gallery brings the work of twenty artists together for a group show exploring perception and space, leaving your mind bent after rooms of sculptural illusions. The rich array of installations spanning the entirety of the gallery are a feast for the senses, attempting to fool the eyes and mind and prove that seeing is not always believing.

Shape Shifters is an exhibition that caters for the masses and comes with a host of Instagram-opportunity artworks that you will be waiting seemingly ages for fashionistas to capture their perfect shot in front of. Despite big names forming part of the collective, this show is all about artists not many people will have heard about. Away from the sea of photo shoots that occur at Anish Kapoor’s fairground distorting mirror Non Object (Door) or the reincarnation of Richard Wilson’s 20:50 and Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden, it is, in particular, the work of two young Polish artists that steals this mind-altering show.

Alicja Kwade’s WeltenLinie or ‘world line’ is a beautiful installation that greets you as a straightforward geometric sculpture – an arrangement of cuboid steel frames, mirrors and objects – that the viewer is invited to wander around and within. The piece was lauded at last year’s Venice Biennale and is the standout work here. Soon after entering WeltenLinie you realise that nothing around you is quite how it seems.

Through the use of double-sided mirrors and the careful placement of stone and wood sculptures, often with a “twin” on the other side of the mirror in a different material, Kwade creates an illusion of transformation. As you move around the work and avoid walking into a mirror, the change of perspective makes the objects around you change colour.
At the heart of Kwade’s masterpiece is trompe-l’œil illusion: the physical materials are self-evident, even plain, yet their effects, augmented by the Hayward’s space, are ineffable. And this occurs over and over again in this beautiful show.
Handrail, by another Polish artist, Monika Sosnowska, twists and turns around one of the gallery’s bannisters up into the Upper Galleries, distorting into a looping abstract shape that completely fills one of the adjacent walls.

There is much to love about the works on show by familiar artists. Looking up at Jeppe Hein’s rotating mirrors in 360° Illusion V is a meditative two minutes in the Lower Galleries. Yayoi Kusama’s mirrored balls installation entitled Narcissus Garden is shown after last being seen at an old train garage in the abandoned U.S. military base in Fort Tilden, Rockaway. The blank space of the Hayward makes the piece less impressive than its last outing, but when the balls interact with the brutalist architecture, Kusama’s work still dazzles.

Richard Wilson’s evergreen oil installation 20:50 provides just as long a queue as that of the bloggers in the Yayoi Kusama room, proving that this spooky pool of oil is as much a hit as it ever was in the Saatchi Gallery, where it lived for so many years. In contrast to the Saatchi, you can step out on to the pier extending into the flooded gallery one-by-one at the Hayward.

As you walk out, the oil comes up to the lip of the wall at waist height providing a sensation of vertigo and disorientation as the velvety pool of oil reflects perfectly and you find yourself looking in awe at how all those litres of sump oil can create such beauty and thinking, “how will they clean this up”.

There is also outstanding work from Fred Eversley’s semi-transparent sculpture Untitled (Parabolic Lens) that provides relief and joy when observing the person opposite you, transporting them into a violet land where they become the centrepiece of the artwork and their movements creating a unique piece of kinetic artwork.

Works from Helen Pashgian, De Wain Valentine, Roni Horn, Larry Bell and Ann Veronica Janssens thrill just as much in what is a vast exhibition full of dizzying wonder.

Space Shifters is at the Hayward Gallery, London now til 6 January 2019.