Cathy Wilkes Will Be the Third Female Artist in a Row to Represent the UK at the Venice Biennale

Cathy Wilkes will represent the UK in the upcoming 58th Venice Bienniale in 2019 (on view May 11 through November 24, 2019). This is the third time over the past four biennials that a solo female artist has been chosen to fill the British Pavilion, following Phyllida Barlow in 2017 and Sarah Lucas in 2015. Mike Nelson represented Britain in 2011.

Emma Dexter, the British Council’s director of visual arts who chaired the selection committee, said in a statement that Wilkes’s distinctive and highly personal sculptural installations, which evoke the rituals of daily life “will trigger complex new meanings and atmospherics within the grand domestic architecture of the British Pavilion.”

The British Pavilion in Venice, which will hold an exhibition by the Glasgow-based artist next year. Photo by John Riddy. Courtesy British Council.

A Turner Prize nominee in 2008, Wilkes is a seasoned artist when it comes to exhibiting in Venice. In 2005, she participated in the group show “Selective Memory” at the Scotland+Venice pavilion. In 2013, her work was picked for the main exhibition “The Encyclopaedic Palace.”

The artist, who is from Nothern Ireland and based in Glasgow, recently had a survey exhibition at MoMA PS1. The exhibition was part of the inaugural Maria Lassnig Prize that Wilkes won in 2016, a biennial award which came with a €50,000 ($53,000) cash prize and a solo exhibition at a designated partner institution. Wilkes’ self-titled exhibition in the New York museum closed on March 11.

When Wilkes was chosen for the award, MoMA PS1 chief curator Peter Eleey, said “Wilkes’s installations connect the banalities of daily existence to larger archetypes of birth, marriage, child-rearing, and death.”

Amanda Catto, the head of visual arts at Creative Scotland, said that selecting Wilkes was “an affirmation of the exceptional quality of art making that is taking place in Scotland today.”

For the first time, the British Council sought a UK-based, mid-career curator to organize the pavilion, choosing Zoe Whitley, who is the curator of international art at the Tate.

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