Cathy Wilkes, the Turner Prize-nominated artist who lives and works in Glasgow, exhibits rarely. That changed last year with exhibitions of her paintings and haunting sculptural works at the Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz in Austria, TATE Liverpool in the UK and most recently Museum Abteiberg in Germany (Mönchengladbach, November 8 – February 14, 2016).
Above image: Cathy Wilkes exhibition view at Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz. Photograph by Reinhard Haider.
In addition to paintings, her exhibition features sculptural works that date back to 1998. These pale, almost skeletal forms are posed in installations that the TATE says “evoke places of loss or transformation.” Abstracted enough so that we’re unable to place the forms within simple categories such as gender or emotion, they huddle around collections of objects amassed during everyday life, such as bottles, towels, cups, and plates.
Curators with the Abteiberg state that her mannequin-like forms and the other sculptural objects have “a painterly quality” since many have been touched up using paint or dirt. This links them to her more abstract paintings on canvases or wood panels. All have an existential tone, according to the museum, creating situations that both remove us from the familiar while referring to a universal experience. The figures, coming to us as shades or fading memories, keep us at a pace removed while seeming to point a thin finger directly at us.
According to Wilkes her work is “inhabited by both the living and the dead. Then its understood that there is both materialization and disappearance of physical things. It’s understood that it is a natural retreat from material reality. It’s understood that the forces of nature are electric and defining.”
Wilkes (b. 1966, Belfast) was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2009, according to her biography at Xavier Hufkens. She represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2005 and participated in the International Exhibition of the Biennale in 2013. Other recent solo exhibitions include The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago (2012); Gesellschaft für aktuelle Kunst, Bremen (2011); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2011); Kunstverein, Munich (2011).
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