Gasworks, the well-loved ‘home for artists’ in London will reopen to the public on 24 September 2015 after purchasing its freehold and undergoing a major redevelopment by award-winning British architects HAT Projects. The unveiling of the space will be accompanied by an exhibition of newly commissioned work by emerging South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere. Under the direction of Alessio Antoniolli, the redevelopment secures a permanent home for Gasworks and will allow the pioneering organisation to continue to nurture future generations of artists and their audiences in Vauxhall, South London. The £2.1 million project, including the purchase of the freehold of the building for £1.1 million, has been funded by a £1.2 million grant from Arts Council England as well as by contributions from artists and donations from many trusts, foundations and generous individuals. In addition, a number of internationally renowned Gasworks Alumni, including Turner prize winners and nominees, donated works to a fundraising auction hosted by Christie’s in October 2013; and to a Kickstarter campaign curated by Art Basel, in October 2014.
The exhibition chosen to re-launch the space is a solo show by Kemang Wa Lehulere (24 September – 8 November 2015). It is he first presentation within the new gallery space at Gasworks. The South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere works in a variety of media, including performance, drawing, installation, text, and photography, Wa Lehulere’s work includes creating events and environments as tools to help understand South Africa’s past and present. His work engages with the spaces between personal narrative and collective history as well as between processes of amnesia and archive. For his exhibition at Gasworks, the artist will create a large-scale wall drawing alongside other wall-based and sculptural works. This exhibition will mark Wa Lehulere’s first solo exhibition in the UK.
Upcoming shows include Ramírez-Figueroa in November whose practice is rooted in folklore and dreams, conspiracy theories, ancient mythology and magical practices. The Guatemalan civil war (1960–96) is a recurring subject in his work, softened only by the at times absurd or humorous approach that colours many of his sculptures, performances and works on paper. He often appears semi-nude in his live works, his nakedness channeling a subcultural urge for liberty that is at odds with more stifling or conventional readings of the body.