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The British Council is delighted to announce that Cathy Wilkes has been selected to represent Great Britain at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, presenting a major solo exhibition of new work opening on 11 May 2019 and running till 24 November 2019.
Since the late 1990s, Glasgow-based Cathy Wilkes (b. 1966, Dundonald, Belfast) has built a considerable reputation for sculptural installations of profound and mysterious intensity, which often evoke interiors and places of loss. Cathy Wilkes insists on the private life of the artist, and questions how art can relate to human experience. Cathy Wilkes’s work is tender, intimate, autobiographical – yet universal, inspiring the writer Laura McLean Ferris to describe Wilkes’s recent survey at MoMA PS1 in New York earlier this year as “this magnificent exhibition”.
The fierce integrity of her work is widely acknowledged, and, in 2016, she was awarded the inaugural Maria Lassnig Prize – a prestigious honour to recognise the achievements of mid-career artists.
To widen access to international working for UK visual arts professionals, the British Council has for the first time, created an opportunity for a UK-based mid-career curator to curate the British Pavilion. The British Council is delighted to announce that, following an open call selection process, Dr Zoe Whitley, Curator International Art, Tate, has been appointed to this position.
Emma Dexter, British Council Director Visual Arts, Commissioner of the British Pavilion and Chair of the British Pavilion Selection Committee, said: “The British Council is delighted that Cathy Wilkes has been selected to represent the UK at the Biennale Arte 2019. 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 Biennale Arte 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.”
Hugh Mulholland, Senior Curator at The Mac, Belfast and member of the British Pavilion Selection Committee, said: “Cathy Wilkes is a deeply thoughtful artist; central to her 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. Her presence at the Biennale Arte 2019 is a fitting acknowledgement of her considerable achievements to date.”
Fiona Bradley, Director of The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh and member of the British Pavilion Selection Committee, said: “I am pleased to have been part of this year’s Selection Committee and for Cathy Wilkes to be the selected artist. Cathy Wilkes’s work is eloquent and engaging, with an uncompromising visual intelligence that will reach across national borders to appeal to the many and diverse audiences for the Biennale Arte 2019.”
Dr Zoe Whitley, Curator at Tate Modern and Curator of the British Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2019 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.”
Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts, Creative Scotland, said: “The Scotland + Venice partners – Creative Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland and British Council Scotland – are delighted to hear that Cathy Wilkes has been selected to represent Great Britain at the Biennale Arte 2019. Cathy Wilkes is a remarkable artist, making complex and emotionally powerful work. This is a tremendous accolade for Cathy Wilkes and an affirmation of the exceptional quality of art making that is taking place in Scotland today.”
Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: “It is so delightful to have an artist of Cathy’s calibre, with a Northern Ireland connection, representing the UK at the Biennale Arte 2019. Her work and her role in Venice will be an inspiration to the rich seam of visual artists from these shores. The British Council’s selection of Cathy Wilkes’s work is recognition of her artistic excellence; it is well-deserved and we send her our heartfelt congratulations.”
The 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, which is the foremost global presentation of visual art, will run from 11 May 2019 to 24 November 2019.
The British Council has been responsible for the British Pavilion in Venice since 1937, showcasing the best of the UK's artists, architects, designers and curators. In 2014 the British Council created the Venice Fellowships programme to offer students, artists and architects the opportunity to spend a month at the Biennale conducting research alongside the exhibition.
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