Luhring Augustine is pleased to present Looking In, an exhibition of new sculpture and works on paper by Rachel Whiteread. This marks the artist’s tenth exhibition since the gallery began representing her in 1991. A concurrent exhibition Looking Out is on view at Luhring Augustine Bushwick through December 20th.
Whiteread’s artistic practice is defined by her ongoing investigation of domestic architecture and the traces of humanity impressed upon such spaces. Using materials such as plaster, resin, rubber and concrete, she casts architectural elements and household items to yield sculptures that are uncanny ghosts of their objects of origin. By rendering the invisible wholly visible – the space beneath a chair, the darkness under a bed, the air inside a room – Whiteread compels us to see the world anew and look to the prosaic as a site for memory and history.
In recent years, Whiteread has been casting found windows and doors in colored resin to create translucent sculptures that explore the quality of light and the sensory experience of time. Her new works include a series of concrete and resin windows that appear bricked up. Rendered in tones of pale green and overcast grey, the flawless resin invites us to look in, yet the concrete cast of bricks behind it prevents our looking through. These impenetrable windows evoke suffocation, and recall her seminal work Ghost (1990), in which Whiteread set out to “mummify the air” inside a room. The appearance of bricks also brings to mind derelict buildings and reflects the artist’s interest in the neglected or forgotten. Her untitled bronze cast of squashed egg cartons is another example of this preoccupation with detritus.
Whiteread has also created new resin windows that appear to be cast from accordion blinds. In contrast to the bricked up windows, these works are comprised of layers of resin, and are more pictorial – a nod perhaps to the artist’s initial training as a painter. The striped patterns are quite formal and abstract, and their geometric minimalism is amplified when the windows are repeated in pairs, triptychs, or grid-like compositions. Cast in ethereal shades inspired by weather, these sculptures are slightly animated by changes in light and the viewer’s position, and display subtle visual movement. Above all, her resin works possess a certain quietude characteristic of all of her cast sculptures – they embody space as well as silence.
Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963) was born in London, England where she currently lives and works. She studied painting at Brighton Polytechnic and sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art. Whiteread won the Turner Prize for her public sculpture House (1993) and represented Great Britain at the 1997 Venice Biennale. Important commissions include Holocaust Memorial (2000) in Vienna, Tree of Life (2011-2012) for the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and a new permanent sculpture for Governor’s Island in New York to debut in the spring of 2017. Her works are in several prestigious collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Tate, London and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. A major retrospective exhibition of Whiteread’s work is being organized jointly by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and Tate Britain, London and will open in the fall of 2017.