Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon 2023:
Online charity auction hosted by Phillips

Alfie Caine, Pear and Lilies (detail), 2022, Vinyl paint on canvas. 100 x 140 cm (39 x 551/8 in.) (unframed), 144 x 104 x 70 cm (56 x 40 x 27 in.) (framed). Signed and dated on reverse.
Art Martin Cid Magazine

Whitechapel Gallery is delighted to announce the donation of 15 exceptional artworks to the Gallery by artists Ari Bayuaji (b.1975, Indonesia), Tim Breuer (b.1990, Germany), Zoë Buckman (b.1985, UK), Alfie Caine (b.1996, UK), Nick Goss (b.1981, UK), Andrew Pierre Hart (UK), Haroun Hayward (b.1983, UK), JR (b.1983, France), Jenny Holzer (b.1950, USA), Harminder Judge (b.1982, UK).Sola Olulode (b.1996, UK), Nengi Omuku (b.1987, Nigeria), Lydia Pettit (b.1991, USA), George Rouy (b.1994, UK) and Jessie Stevenson (b.1993, UK).

The online charity auction will be hosted by Phillips auction house on www.phillips.com, with bidding open to participants on 12 January 2023, running through to 2pm GMT on 20 January 2023. Those interested may register for the auction ahead of time on https://www.phillips.com/auctions/auction/UK090223

All donated artworks will be auctioned in support of Whitechapel Gallery’s education and community programmes as part of the Gallery’s prestigious Art Icon award. This year Jenny Holzer will be honoured during a gala celebration on 19 January 2023, hosted by cultural historian Mary Beard, and Whitechapel Gallery Director, Gilane Tawadros with a special performance from Thurston Moore, founder of Sonic Youth.

Jenny Holzer, based in Hoosick, New York, is a conceptual and installation artist whose work deploys text in public spaces across an array of media, including electronic signs, carved stone, paintings, billboards, and prints. Holzer invites public debate and illuminates social and political justice. Celebrated for her inimitable use of language, Holzer creates a powerful tension between the realms of feeling and knowledge, with a practice that encompasses individual and collective experiences of power, violence, joy, idealism, corruption, vulnerability, and tenderness.

The event committee includes Dorota Audemars, Erin Bell, Emilie De Pauw, Yan Du, Philomene Magers, Luigi Maramotti, Irene Panagopoulos, Marc Payot, Nicole Saikalis Bay, Bo Young Song, Monika Sprüth, Maria Sukkar, Cheyenne Westphal, and Manuela & Iwan Wirth.

Gilane Tawadros said: “We are delighted that Jenny Holzer will be Whitechapel Gallery’s Art Icon in 2023 in recognition of her ground-breaking practice as an artist who has consistently addressed social justice issues with elegance and humour throughout her decades-long career.”

Cheyenne Westphal, Global Chairwoman, Phillips, said: “Phillips is extremely proud to support Whitechapel Gallery for the tenth annual Art Icon Gala and delighted to act as auction partner to host the online auction on Phillips.com, the proceeds from which will support Whitechapel Gallery’s pioneering education and community programmes. We are thrilled to play a part in the prestigious Art Icon Award which will celebrate the lifetime achievements of renowned artist Jenny Holzer. Phillips’ long-standing partnership with Whitechapel Gallery is part of our Arts Partnerships programme, committed to supporting contemporary arts and culture worldwide.”

The works to be auctioned to support education as a core element of the Gallery’s mission are: 

  1. Ari Bayuaji’s jewel-toned work The Sky and the Ocean (2022) features repurposed plastic rope found wrapped around mangrove trees along the Balinese Coast. Spun into thread and woven into a tapestry, the plastic thread speaks to questions of labour, the economy, and environmental concerns.
  2. Tim Breuer’s ethereal painting Seventh Heaven (2022) depicts an intimate scene between two figures. Startling beautiful, thin washes of oil paint appear as velvety greens, yellows and earth tones.
  3. you make me loud (2022), an embroidery from Zoë Buckman, portrays a woman with red lips, a chunky gold necklace, and a red bikini in a state of joyful dynamism in the face of adversity. Arms outstretched, displaying scars visible from surgeries, the woman dances across the fabric.
  4. Alfie Caine’s painting, Pears and Lilies (2022), is a serene architectural dreamscape guiding us to peer into the East Sussex landscape through an opened door in an intimate domestic scene. 
  5. Painting Aloe Vera (2022) by Nick Goss is an investigation of the city and the artist’s observations of everyday life. Brightly coloured details of a food stall in Ridley Road Market, close to the artist’s studio in East London, feast the eyes in sharp focus.
  6. Study for a polyptych – panel 2-for AAC (2022) is a characteristically luscious and poetic example of Andrew Pierre Hart’s work. A palette of velvety blue and indigo hues, the scene evokes the nighttime and the mysterious activities that could happen once the sun disappears and the music starts playing.
  7. In Composition with Mid Blue, Light Blue (2022), Haroun Hayward explores visually communicating sound, specifically the interconnectedness of repetition in music and pattern in textiles. One light blue and one royal blue ellipse sit side-by-side, as though they were a cropped image in a repeating, rhythmic pattern.
  8. JR’s Inside Out, Haiti (2021) is a photographic print of a street scene in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The photograph documents a large-format, black-and-white pasting of a pair of unflinching eyes installed onto a building wall.
  9. TOPSECRET//STLW//HCS/COMINT//ORCON/NOFORN(2017) is a graphite and watercolour work by Art Icon 2023 winner, Jenny Holzer, which depicts a redacted text from a US government document. The work presents questions around secrecy, opacity, protection and subterfuge.
  10. The black pigment floating to the surface of Harminder Judge’s Untitled (eye in the eye rising) (2022) recalls the artist’s experience of witnessing funeral rites in Punjab. Here, the bodies of those who have transitioned into death are washed, prepared and cremated on a pyre. The black pigment evokes a landscape, as well as ash, body and spirit in one.
  11. Triangles (2022) by Sola Olulode depicts two bodies in repose beneath a gloriously patterned cover. Made by drawing the figures in wax before dyeing the fabric in indigo, the bodies appear as faint silhouettes.
  12. In Nengi Omuku’s print Naomi (2021), the face of a spectral figure is deliberately blurred. The figure appears to be floating, a dislocation of scene that suspends them without context, while the faintest demarcation of a stool invokes the physicality of sitting.
  13. With the loose brushwork of Presentation (2022), Lydia Pettit presents a cropped view of her squeezed abdomen. With Pettit’s typical flair, the work is in equal measure confrontational and deeply affecting, tackling head-on her self-perception and the perception of others.
  14. In a work made specifically for Whitechapel Gallery, George Rouy continues his investigation of body and psyche, creating a symbolic work that resists a straightforward or linear narrative.
  15. Far In-between (2022), a painting by Jessie Stevenson, depicts the vastness of the Norfolk marsh and light through interconnected brushwork; the horizon is hazy and land and cloud bleed into one another as if joined by an ethereal atmosphere.

Since 2014, the Art Icon gala and auction have raised funds for Whitechapel Gallery’s education and community programmes, enabling the Gallery to engage with tens of thousands of children and young people through a diverse array of art and ideas. In the last ten years, the Gallery has worked with more than 51,500 school students, 35,000 college and university students, welcomed 8,400 participants to family days and engaged 3,500 local participants in community workshops.  More than 10,000 15 – 21-year-olds have visited Boot Camps, masterclasses, creative career sessions and collaborations, and more than 300 have taken part in the Duchamp & Sons Youth Forum. The Art Icon gala and charity auction help support the Gallery’s continued success and innovation, whilst maintaining the conviction that its work is fundamental to society – at a time when culture, creativity and inspiration are both in short supply for many and yet more essential than ever for our collective future.

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News about art, exhibitions, museums and artists around the world. An international view of the art world. Responsible for the Art Section: Lisbeth Thalberg
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