Fourth Plinth: Seven Artists Vie for Prestigious Trafalgar Square Commission

Fourth Plinth 2024

Seven artists have been unveiled as contenders for the prestigious Fourth Plinth commissions in 2026 and 2028. Chila Kumari Singh Burman, Gabriel Chaile, Ruth Ewan, Thomas J Price, Veronica Ryan, Tschabalala Self, and Andra Ursuţa have each crafted maquettes of their proposed artworks, which are currently on view at the National Gallery until March 17, 2024.

Situated in Trafalgar Square, the Fourth Plinth stands as one of the most esteemed art commissions globally, showcasing the work of internationally renowned artists in the heart of London. This year marks a quarter-century since the installation of the first piece, Mark Wallinger’s “Ecce Homo,” unveiled in 1999. Since then, 14 works have graced the iconic site, with Samson Kambalu’s “Antelope” currently occupying the space.

Among the shortlisted proposals is “The Smile You Send Returns to You” by Chila Burman, featuring her father’s ice cream van, a poignant symbol in Burman’s work. Gabriel Chaile’s “Hornero” celebrates the Rufous Hornero bird, while Ruth Ewan’s “Believe in Discontent” challenges traditional perceptions of sculpture and ornamentation.

Thomas J Price’s “Ancient Feelings” presents a monumental bronze sculpture, while Veronica Ryan’s “Sweet Potatoes and Yams are Not the Same” explores the journey of the humble sweet potato. Tschabalala Self’s “Lady in Blue” pays homage to the contemporary woman of colour, and Andra Ursuţa’s “Untitled” delves into the complexities of public sculpture and commemoration.

The public is invited to engage with the proposed artworks both online and through the Bloomberg Connects app, offering feedback that will inform the selection process by the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group. The winning sculptures, to be announced in March 2024, will grace the Fourth Plinth in 2026 and 2028, respectively.

In addition to the shortlisted proposals, Teresa Margolles’s “Improntas (Imprints)” is slated to adorn the Fourth Plinth in September 2024. This evocative work, composed of plaster casts of trans people’s faces arranged in a Tzompantli formation, is a tribute to transgender communities worldwide.

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture, Creative Industries, and 24hr London Team, praised the shortlisted artists for their thought-provoking contributions, echoing the sentiment shared by Ekow Eshun, Chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group.

Dr. Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, emphasized the importance of public engagement with art, encouraging individuals to shape London’s artistic landscape. Jemma Read, Global Head of Corporate Philanthropy at Bloomberg LP, highlighted the Fourth Plinth’s role in fostering dialogue and celebrating diversity.

Funded by the Mayor of London, with support from Arts Council England and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Fourth Plinth serves as a beacon of contemporary art, sparking conversation and reflection in the city’s heart.

Top Photo: (L-R) Tschabalala Self, Lady in Blue, Gabriel Chaile, Hornero, Veronica Ryan, Sweet Potatoes and Yams are Not the Same, Thomas J Price, Ancient Feelings.(L-R) Chila Kumari Singh Burman, The Smile You Send Returns To You, Andra Ursuța, Untitled, Ruth Ewan, Believe in Discontent, 2024. Photos: James O Jenkins.

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