Alexandre da Cunha’s vast kinetic art for Battersea Power Station Tube

At the new Battersea Power Station London Underground station, Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha has unveiled Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset a public kinetic artwork inspired by the former power station control room, and the rhythms of urban life

Battersea Power Station Underground station.
All images: Alexandre da Cunha, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, 2021, Battersea Power Station Underground station. Commissioned by Art on the Underground. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. 2021
(Image credit: GG Archard)

Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha has just unveiled his largest work to date in London’s new Battersea Power Station Underground station. The vast kinetic sculpture, titled Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, is a new permanent fixture for the new Northern Line Extension, to be viewed by millions passing through the station’s ticket hall. 

The nearly-100m work, commissioned by Art on the Underground and conceived before the pandemic, comprises more than 3,500 individual panels and marks the first time the artist has used kinetics in his work. Da Cunha has utilised an outmoded advertising mechanism – the rotating billboard – to create two friezes inspired by the former Battersea Power Station control room and its system of vertical bars that regulated the output of electricity into London.

All images: Alexandre da Cunha, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, 2021, Battersea Power Station Underground station. Commissioned by Art on the Underground. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo by GG Archard, 2021

(Image credit: GG Archard)

Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset will shift its shape throughout the day, with each of its three faces fading from one colour to another in response to London’s sunrises and sunsets. The piece reflects the rhythmic flow of daily life, routine, and the passing of time. ‘Although the core of this piece is colour and its reference to landscape, the work focuses on the idea of movement, cycle and repetition,’ says da Cunha, who is known for modernist works that imbue everyday objects and readymades with spiritual narratives. ‘The analogue aspect of the panels function as an antidote to our constant relationship with digital media, a counterpoint to screens acting as an extension of our bodies.’

RELATED STORY

‘This meditative sculpture brings a wholly different perspective to Battersea Power Station Tube station, far beyond the visual language of digital screens that surround us,’ says Eleanor Pinfield, head of Art on the Underground. ‘Da Cunha’s monumental kinetic frieze will become synonymous with the station, drawing people through its ticket hall with its rhythmic daily flow.’

Da Cunha’s work is the latest in a series of permanent commissions by Art on the Underground sited across the transport network, including Daniel Buren’s Diamonds and Circles, works in situ, at Tottenham Court Road station (2017). Details of new permanent artwork for Nine Elms station will soon be announced.

All images: Alexandre da Cunha, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, 2021, Battersea Power Station Underground station. Commissioned by Art on the Underground. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo by GG Archard, 2021

(Image credit: GG Archard)

All images: Alexandre da Cunha, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, 2021, Battersea Power Station Underground station. Commissioned by Art on the Underground. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo by GG Archard, 2021

(Image credit: GG Archard)

All images: Alexandre da Cunha, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, 2021, Battersea Power Station Underground station. Commissioned by Art on the Underground. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo by GG Archard, 2021

(Image credit: GG Archard)

All images: Alexandre da Cunha, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, 2021, Battersea Power Station Underground station. Commissioned by Art on the Underground. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo by GG Archard, 2021

(Image credit: GG Archard)

INFORMATION

art.tfl.gov.uk (opens in new tab)

Harriet Lloyd-Smith is the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.