Gagosian will reopen its Grosvenor Hill on 12 April, subject to government guidelines, with an exhibition of new work by Rachel Whiteread.
Over the past four decades, Whiteread has used the method of casting on both “low” materials such as concrete, resin, rubber, and plaster, as well as more traditional sculptural materials, such as bronze. Whether they take the form of monumental public installations or small, intimate objects, Whiteread’s forms imply hidden narratives and secret histories. She employs existing artefacts and spaces—including domestic objects like chairs and mattresses, interiors of rooms, and even, famously, an entire terraced house—to evoke and explore corporeal presence. Notably, her deft use of negative space can imply a thing that’s gone and been reincarnated.
In Internal Objects, Whiteread employs Minimalism’s formal language, taking cues from its emphasis on geometric seriality while adding a quietly emotive aspect, maintaining an acute sensitivity to objects’ minor details and subtle markers of use and human irregularity.
Throughout the exhibition, the suggestion of haunting, or ghostliness, is manifested differently. In Detached 1, Detached 2, and Detached 3 (all 2012), first installed at Gagosian London in 2013, Whiteread rendered the empty interiors of three garden sheds in concrete and steel. Now, in Internal Objects, she has again created cabin-like structures but has, for the first time, eschewed casting existing objects in favour of building original ones. Poltergeist (2020) and Döppelganger (2020–21), which will occupy the two main rooms of the Grosvenor Hill gallery, are made of found wood and metal that has been meticulously overpainted in white household paint.
While Whiteread’s sheds of a decade ago were closed, the new sculptures are open, inverting their predecessors’ formal system. They suggest that something catastrophic has occurred, allowing nature to take over.
She has taken inspiration from reading John Steinbeck and by her experience of driving through the Mojave Desert and Death Valley in California after installing two sculptures in Joshua Tree National Park in 2017. Although the new works represent a departure from her established sculptural process, they continue her overall project considering the intimate haptic qualities of the spaces surrounding us.
The exhibition will also feature a new body of sculptures in resin, new works on paper, and recent cast sculptures in bronze, similar to pieces in bronze Whiteread made in 2000–10 and exhibited at a major retrospective at Tate Britain in 2017.
A fully illustrated catalogue, including a short story by John Steinbeck and an essay by Richard Calvocoressi, will be published to accompany the exhibition.
About the artist:
Rachel Whiteread is one of Britain’s leading contemporary sculptors. Born in London in 1963 she studied painting at Brighton Polytechnic and sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art. She came to public attention in 1993 with her sculpture, House, a life-sized cast of the interior of a condemned terraced house in east London winning the Turner Prize that year. The house was eventually demolished in 1994. She realised one of the Unilever Commissions for Tate Modern’s turbine hall, as well as being commissioned to make a sculpture for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. She is now a leading international artist, creating major public works in both Europe and the United States, including the Holocaust memorial at the Judenplatz in Vienna, one of the most prestigious sculptural commissions in Europe. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2006 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to art
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