Cathy Wilkes has been selected to represent Great Britain at the 58th Venice Biennale which takes place 11 May – 24 November 2019. The Glasgow-based artist will present a major solo exhibition of new work curated by Dr Zoe Whitley, Curator International Art, Tate.
Announcing the pairing of artist and curator, British Council Director of Visual Arts Emma Dexter, who is also Commissioner of the British Pavilion and Chair of the British Pavilion Curator Selection Panel, said:
“Cathy Wilkes’s distinctive and highly personal sculptural installations, evoking the rituals of daily life while alluding to existential questions at the core of human existence, will trigger complex new meanings and atmospherics within the grand domestic architecture of the British Pavilion. I am in no doubt that her exhibition will be a unique and powerful contribution to the Venice Biennale 2019.
“We are also really excited that Dr Zoe Whitley will be working alongside both the British Council and the artist to help bring this fascinating artist’s work to the global audience for La Biennale di Venezia.”
Belfast-born Wilkes graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1988, and completed her MFA at the University of Ulster, Belfast, in 1992. Her 25-year career has included a Turner Prize nomination in 2008 and solo shows in New York, Glasgow, Liverpool, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Bremen and London.
In 2017, she was the inaugural recipient of the Maria Lassnig Prize, which resulted in the largest solo exhibition of her work to date taking place at MoMA PS1, New York 22 October, 2017 – 11 March 2018.
She also represented Scotland in the Venice Biennale 2005 as part of the exhibition ‘Selective Memory’, and was featured in ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’, part of the 2013 Venice Biennale.
Describing Wilkes as “a deeply thoughtful artist”, Senior Curator at The Mac, Belfast and member of the British Pavilion Selection Committee Hugh Mulholland described her presence at the 2019 Venice Biennale as a fitting acknowledgement of her considerable achievements to date.
“Central to Wilke’s practice is a desire to give voice to an inner world, to understand the human condition and to address an emotional deficit at the core of society, a preoccupation which could not be more apt for the current world order,” he said.
Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Head of Visual Arts Suzanne Lyle added: “It is so delightful to have an artist of Wilke’s calibre, with a Northern Ireland connection, representing the UK at the Venice Biennale. Her work and her role in Venice will be an inspiration to the rich seam of visual artists from these shores.”
Whitley’s selection as curator is a result of British Council’s project to widen access to international working for UK visual arts professionals. The appointment was made following an open call for a UK-based mid-career curator to curate the Pavilion.
Speaking about her role and the opportunity to work with Wilkes, Whitley said: “It’s a privilege and the most wonderful responsibility to be entrusted with curating the British Pavilion. I’m thrilled to collaborate with Cathy Wilkes and the British Council in such a unique capacity; to consider, to learn from and to convey the work of such a significant artist is an exciting challenge.”
The full list of members of the British Pavilion Selection Committee for 2019 is: Hugh Mulholland, Senior Curator, The Mac, Belfast; Fiona Bradley, Director, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Sarah Munro, Director, BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art, Gateshead; David A Bailey, Director, International Curators Forum; Joe Scotland, Director, Studio Voltaire, London; Katy Freer, Exhibitions Officer, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea; Anne Barlow, Artistic Director, Tate St Ives; Martin Herbert, Writer and Critic; Melanie Keen, Director, Iniva.
Members of the British Pavilion Curator Selection Panel for 2019 are: Emma Dexter, Director Visual Arts, British Council (Chair); Gemma Hollington, Director Exhibitions, Visual Arts, British Council; Sara Black, Senior Project Manager Venice, British Council; David A. Bailey, Director, International Curators Forum
The 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale Di Venezia takes place 11 May – 24 November 2019 www.labiennale.org
1. Cathy Wilkes, Untitled, dimensions variable, mixed media, 2012. Installation view of Cathy Wilkes, on view at MoMA PS1 from October 22, 2017 through March 11, 2018. Gift of the Speyer Family Foundation and Mrs Saidie A May (by exchange). Image courtesy: MoMA PS1; Courtesy: the Artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow; Photo: Pablo Enriquez
2. Cathy Wilkes, Untitled (detail), dimensions variable, mixed media, 2017. Installation view of Cathy Wilkes, on view at MoMA PS1 from October 22, 2017 through March 11, 2018. Image courtesy: MoMA PS1; Courtesy: the Artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow; Photo: Pablo Enriquez
3. Cathy Wilkes, Untitled, 76x122x2.5cm, oil on canvas, 2016. Courtesy: the artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow; Photo: Keith Hunter