Northern Irish Artist Cathy Wilkes To Represent GB At 58th Venice Biennale

Cathy Wilkes

Cathy Wilkes has been selected to represent Great Britain at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The Northern Irish artist will be presenting a major solo exhibition of new work opening on 11 May 2019 and running till 24 November 2019.

“Cathy Wilkes is a deeply thoughtful artist; central to her practice is a desire to give voice to an inner world”

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.

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.”

Cathy Wilkes
Cathy Wilkes

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.

Cathy Wilkes (b. 1966, Dundonald, Belfast, lives and works in Glasgow, UK) graduated with a BA from The Glasgow School of Art in 1988, and completed her MFA at the University of Ulster, Belfast in 1992.

Wilkes has produced an outstanding and unique body of work spanning 25 years, she is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential artists working in the UK today.

In 2016, she was the inaugural recipient of the Maria Lassnig Prize and presented the largest solo exhibition of her work to date at MoMA PS1, New York (2017-2018).

Selected solo exhibitions include: The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2016); Tate Liverpool, touring to LENTOS Kunstmuseum, Linz and Museum Abteiberg, Möenchengladbach (2015 – 2016); Tramway, Glasgow (2014); The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2012); ‘I Give You All My Money’, The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Chicago (2012); Gesellschaft Fur Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen (2011); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2011); Kunstverein, Munich (2011); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2011); and ‘Mummy’s Here’, Studio Voltaire, London (2009).

Wilkes was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2008. She represented Scotland in the Biennale Arte 2005 as part of the exhibition ‘Selective Memory’, and was featured in ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’, part of the Biennale Arte 2013, Venice.

Selected recent group exhibitions include: 13th Fellbach Triennial of Small-Scale Sculpture, Fellbach (2016); ‘The Great Mother’, Palazzo Reale, Milan (2015); ‘The Human Factor’, The Hayward Gallery, London (2014); ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’, Biennale Arte 2013, Venice; ‘Studio 58: Women Artists in Glasgow Since WWII’, Mackintosh Museum, The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow (2012); and ‘Abstract Resistance’, Walker Arts Centre, Minneapolis (2010).

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