The exhibition will feature small spatial ensembles of recent origin and include some of Wilkes' paintings. These small format and predominantly abstract canvases stand in stark contrast to her large-scale installations made of everyday objects.
“I know that it’s impossible to be objective – I have concluded that over time. And being non-objective brings all
the mysteries of my mind into my work. I think these parts are very important to any artwork: not knowing why
something is exactly as it is or why it’s there at all.”
Cathy Wilkes, Spring 2011
The GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst presents the first major institutional solo exhibition of works by Cathy
Wilkes to be staged outside the UK. The show is a cooperation with the Kunstverein Munich. The exhibitions in
Munich and Bremen will feature two specially commissioned installations as well as selections of previously
unseen archive material compiled individually for each institution by the Northern Irish artist. Wilkes’ installations
at both sites will be accompanied by varying selections of works highlighting different aspects of her artistic
production. While the exhibition staged in Munich in spring 2011 featured older, large-scale installations
alongside works which will be shown at both sites, Wilkes’ exhibition in Bremen will feature smaller spatial
ensembles of recent origin and include some of her paintings. These small format and predominantly abstract
canvases stand in stark contrast to Wilkes’ large-scale installations, and offer a more nuanced insight into the
thinking of this multifaceted artist. The powerful materiality of the painting bridges the divide between sculpture
and picture, forming a manifest link with the sculptural considerations that inform her installations.
Each of Cathy Wilkes’ accumulations of materials establishes its own stage-like presence within the exhibition
situation. These large-scale ensembles, which the artist reconfigures or newly develops for each exhibition
space, are akin to individual episodes that form part of an on-going and open-ended narrative. Comprised of
everyday objects, her floor works are fashioned from bottling jars, bird cages, mobile telephones, water taps,
ploughs, cuddly toys, Christmas mangers, supermarket conveyor belts, ties, baby bottles, brushes, skids,
hammers and much more. Their surfaces range from the untouched to the worn and beaten, seemingly referring
to some interior quality. Recent works by Wilkes have featured human figures – in the form of mannequins and
papier-mâché figurines – within material environments that are shaped by these collections of objects trouvés.
Like actors, they most often embody such feminine roles as the caring mother, the heroine or the imperilled
female warrior, ranging from passivity to action as they circle the themes of “death”, “birth” and the search for a
place in the world. Concrete points of reference are complemented by abstract forms. Within Wilkes’ work
abstraction and representation, concreticity and openness, pathos and reserve, the autobiographic and the
general exist in a seemingly coincidental state of tension that underlines the precision of her method. As a result,
her works are narratorial, but do not tell a specific story; they are biographical, but allow for viewers to develop
their own perspectives. Wilkes questions the pillars of our existence, unabashedly employing emotive gestures,
intuition and subjectivity in spite of the condemnation such an approach might attract within the context of
contemporary art’s focus on the conceptual. Cathy Wilkes is not searching for answers. Rather, her work insists
on the simple existence of certain existential sensitivities. Moreover, her creations are borne by her evident
consideration of sculptural questions and traditions. Her works explore such sculptural parameters as space,
volume, distance, and shape within a modernist appearance.
Cathy Wilkes was born in Belfast in 1966 and lives in Glasgow. She was awarded the Baloise Art Prize in 2002,
and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2008.
The exhibitions at the GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen and Kunstverein München will be
complemented by a catalogue featuring, for the first time, private texts by Wilkes including script-like sequences
for her works and notes similar to diary entries, offering a unique insight into the depths of her imaginative world.
The catalogue will be published in conjunction with the exhibition in Bremen.
Parallel to Cathy Wilkes solo show, the GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst presents its Jahresgaben
2011/2012. This year’s editions include works by Markus Amm, Achim Bertenburg, Julien Bismuth, Katja Blum,
Jason Dodge, Kornelia Hoffmann, Jochen Lempert, Fabian Reimann, Norbert Schwontkowski and Cathy
Wilkes, which are available for purchase for our members for a reduced price.
Melanie Roumiguière Tel. +49 (0)421 500897 firstname.lastname@example.org
GAK Gesellschaft fur Aktuelle Kunst
Teerhof 21 - Bremen
Tue - Sun 11 am- 6 pm, Thur to 9 pm