The British Council has just announced that Sarah Lucas has been selected to represent Britain at the 56th Venice International Art Biennale. She will present a major solo show in the British Pavilion, which will run from 9 May to 22 November 2015. The Artistic Director of the 56th International Art Biennale will be Okwui Enwezor.
Widely recognised as one of Britain’s foremost contemporary artists, Lucas’s work has consistently been characterised by its irreverent humour and deft use of ‘readymade’ objects – furniture, food, tabloid newspapers, tights, toilets, cigarettes. By turns lewd and lyrical, punning and paradoxical, her art continues to deal frankly with sex, death, abjectness and the slippery notion of Englishness. “Humour is about negotiating the contradictions thrown up by convention”, Lucas has said. “To a certain extent, humour and seriousness are interchangeable. Otherwise it wouldn’t be funny. Or devastating.”
The 2015 Venice Biennale Selection Committee, which advises the British Council on the UK’s representation in the British Pavilion, is made up of the following members:
Charles Darwent, Art Critic and Writer Lisa Le Feuvre, Head of Sculpture Studies, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, Hannah Firth, Director of Visual Arts, Chapter, Cardiff, Margot Heller, Director, South London Gallery, Francesco Manacorda, Artistic Director, Tate Liverpool, Francis McKee, Director, Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, Gregor Muir, Executive Director, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Polly Staple, Director, Chisenhale Gallery, London
Gregor Muir stated On Lucas’ selection for Venice, : “In recent years, Sarah Lucas has affirmed her status as a leading international artist with exhibitions in Berlin, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Mexico City, New York and Vienna. Having consistently pushed the limits of her practice, there’s a sense that Lucas – seemingly more active than ever – is coming into her own. Initially entering the fray as a young British artist, Lucas continues to make her presence known through a powerful and progressive relationship with her work. Her output remains urgent while being rooted in a rich artistic tradition, to include feminism and surrealism. Running through her ‘NUDs’ and plaster phalluses, self-portraits and readymade sculptures, one finds a compelling interrogation of sexual form.”
Andrea Rose, British Council Director of Visual Arts and Chair of the Venice Biennale Selection Committee, has said: “To prick convention could be a term coined for Lucas’ work. It’s impolite. Like zest in the artworld mix, her work will bring wit and savour to the Biennale. The Committee has chosen a formidably inventive sculptor to represent Britain.”
Lucas’ work has been presented in solo exhibitions around the world. Her latest exhibitions include a survey at Tramway, Glasgow (2014), ‘NOB + Gelatin’, Secession, Vienna (2013-14), and ‘SITUATION Absolute Beach Man Rubble’, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013).
Sarah Lucas studied at the Working Men’s College (1982–3), London College of Printing (1983–4), and Goldsmith’s College (1984–7). Following her participation in the seminal group show ‘Freeze’ (1988), early solo shows included ‘Penis Nailed to a Board’, City Racing, London, and ‘The Whole Joke’, Kingly Street, London (both 1992). In 1993 she collaborated with Tracey Emin on The Shop, a six-month venture on Bethnal Green Road. She has since exhibited internationally, with major exhibitions including those at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1993), Museum Boymans-van Beunigen, Rotterdam (1996), Portikus, Frankfurt (1996), the Freud Museum, London (2000), ‘Sarah Lucas: Self Portraits and More Sex’, Tecla Sala, Barcelona (2000), and ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ (with Angus Fairhurst and Damien Hirst) at Tate Britain (2004). A retrospective of her work took place in 2005 consecutively at Kunsthalle Zürich, Kunstverein Hamburg, and Tate Liverpool. More recent international projects include ‘LUCAS BOSCH GELATIN’ at Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (2011), ‘NUZ: Spirit of Ewe’, Two Rooms, Auckland, New Zealand (the product of a three-month residency in New Zealand in 2011), an exhibition at the Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, Mexico City (2012; recently chronicled in an encyclopaedic publication produced with partner Julian Simmons, TITTIPUISSIDAD), and ‘Ordinary Things’, a major exhibition of her sculpture, at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2012). From 2012-13, SITUATION – a space dedicated to her work at Sadie Coles, London – hosted eight consecutive shows. 2012 also saw the publication of After 2005 – Before 2012, a book chronicling the artist’s work over seven prolific years since the publication of her 2005 catalogue raisonné. Her latest exhibitions include a survey at Tramway, Glasgow (2014), ‘NOB + Gelatin’, Secession, Vienna (2013-14), and ‘SITUATION Absolute Beach Man Rubble’, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013; accompanied by an extensive catalogue).