The Whitechapel Art Gallery was founded in 1901 to bring great art to the people of east London. Internationally acclaimed for its exhibitions of modern and contemporary art and its pioneering education and public events programmes, the Gallery has premiered international artists such as Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Nan Goldin, and provided a showcase for Britain’s most significant artists from Gilbert & George to Lucian Freud, Peter Doig to Mark Wallinger.
The Gallery plays a unique role in the capital’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of East London as the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter.
The Grade II* Whitechapel Gallery was designed by architect Charles Harrison Townsend. This purpose built gallery is an outstanding example of the Arts and Crafts movement and its aspirations of being accessible, spiritually uplifting and transformative. This development also builds on the 1980s expansion by Colquhoun and Miller under the directorship of Sir Nicolas Serota and inaugurated by the Queen Mother.
Samson Kambalu: Introduction to Nyau Cinema
- 23 August 2016 — 8 January 2017 *on now
In a new work for the Project Galleries, London-based artist Samson Kambalu (b. 1975) draws inspiration from early cinema and watching films as a child in Malawi. Flickering images, appropriated footage, improvised projections, unexpected power cuts and a lively audience made every screening a joyful live event, one that also made visible the mechanics of film.
Turning the gallery into a magazine spread, Kambalu projects his black and white films of visual slapstick alongside his writings. Influenced by Situationism and psychogeography, as well as by the Gule Wamkulu rituals practiced among the Chewa people, Kambalu embraces the subversive potential of non-productive time, gift economies and play.
Imperfect Chronology: Mapping the Contemporary II
- 23 August 2016 — 8 January 2017 *on now
The display Imperfect Chronology: Mapping the Contemporary II focuses on the theme of mapping geographies, examining the notion of statehood and exploring how artists engage with the rapidly expanding cities of the Arab region.
Drawn from the Barjeel Art Foundation collection of modern and contemporary Arab art, this is the final display in a year-long series at the Whitechapel Gallery.
Artists featured include Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Etel Adnan, Marwa Arsanios, Ali Cherri, Manal Al Dowayan, Sadik Al Fraji, GCC Collective, Susan Hefuna, Iman Issa, Jumana Manna, Sophia Al-Maria and Zineb Sedira.
William Kentridge: Thick Time
- 21 September 2016 — 15 January 2017 *on now
South African artist William Kentridge (b.1955, Johannesburg) is renowned for his animated expressionist drawings and films exploring time, the history of colonialism and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics.
In this major exhibition of six large-scale installations by the artist, music and drama are ruptured by revolution, exile and scientific advancement.
Highlights include the film work Second-hand Reading (2013), installation O Sentimental Machine (2015) and The Refusal of Time (2012), an immersive work created with composer Philip Miller, projection designer Catherine Meyburgh, choreographer Dada Masilo, scientist Peter Galison and collaborators from around the world.
Tickets from £11.95/£9.50 concs. Free with membership
Alicja Kwade: Medium Median
- 28 September 2016 — 25 June 2017 *on now
Berlin-based artist Alicja Kwade’s commission Medium Median explores our relationship to space and time.
A 21st century mobile, featuring twenty-four electronic star charts, revolves at the centre of the installation. Slowly orbiting each other in a three-dimensional composition, the devices evoke kinetic sculpture and occasionally align in the formation of the constellation Cassiopeia.
As the sky charts receive information from GPS satellites showing the current locations of stars, they also vocalise in unison a reading of passages from Genesis. Directly connected to the universe, the screens become windows into a starry Milky Way, positioning the viewer at the centre.
Surrounding the mobile, Kwade (b.1979, Katowice, Poland) has placed several large bronze casts reminiscent of Modernist sculpture. Their biomorphic shapes are echoed in the artist’s projection of an ambiguous mass rotating in a black void.
Guerrilla Girls: Is it even worse in Europe?
- 1 October 2016 — 5 March 2017 *on now
The Guerrilla Girls’ new commission for the Whitechapel Gallery revisits their 1986 poster stating “It’s Even Worse in Europe”.
Characteristically deploying their strategic combination of humour, information, bold graphics and a subversive use of public space, their latest campaign includes a banner installed on the front of the Gallery and a display of posters and new research.
Guerrilla Girls: Is it even worse in Europe? explores diversity in European art organisations. It presents responses to questionnaires sent to 383 directors about their exhibitions programme and collections. The questions were formulated to critically look at the narratives that are produced by cultural institutions.
Fareha Khezal & Mak Ying Tung
- 29 November 2016 — 22 January 2017 *on now
A selection of international artists’ film exploring the potential of repetition.
In her metaphorical work Mirror of Heart, Fareha Khezal comments on how women in Afghanistan must stand up for their rights and reveal their talent to participate in socio-political, economic and cultural life. Meanwhile in Disarming (2013) Hong-Kong based Mak Ying Tung (b. 1989) records the intriguingly disturbing act of plucking out the spines of a cactus, thereby questioning issues of perception and social behaviour.
Fareha Khezal is selected by Centre for Contemporary Arts Afghanistan and Mak Ying Tung is selected by Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong.
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