As one of the Young British Artists who exhibited at the Royal Academy’s, London, Sensation in 1997, Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963) remains on the crest of prevalent artistic waves shaping the contemporary landscape.A self-titled exhibition at Tate Britain displays a comprehensive survey which demonstrates command of the interdependent factors of space and place, with both inventive and monumental structures.
The show includes early career sculptures as well as newly commissioned pieces specifically created for the gallery, thus providing the audience with an all-encompassing experience. House (1993), a Turner Prize-winning piece, gained both widespread admiration and critical endorsement. The concrete cast of the interior of an East London terraced house garnered praise before being controversially demolished, and came to epitomise the overarching themes of the artist’s lifelong projects. The inverted building is ingrained with socket hollows, mantelpiece outlines and sunken window frames – features reflective of 20th century domestic realities and ideals. These imprints shed light upon the subtleties of daily life that are usually taken for granted as the banal recesses of the quotidian. The body of work documents everyday surroundings and comments on the state of the social and cultural world whilst remaining grounded in the architectural form. Plaster, concrete, resin, rubber and metal are the defining units which are given a new context when displaced from their associated construction.
The 1,500m open gallery space is balanced between large-scale, prominent sculptures, and their intimate, nuanced counterparts, providing a spectrum of artistic experiences. Untitled (One Hundred Spaces) (1995) showcases a range of spatial voids and proportioned configurations rooted in the reductive sensibility of 1960s minimalism. A symmetrical grid is enhanced by warm colours reflected through resin; qualities which enrich a poetic rendering of place. The space underneath chairs is moulded into a lattice of semi-translucent cubes; Whiteread solidifies the unacknowledged empty spaces that are potential sources of personal interaction. Specialising in the fusion between people and their surroundings, these evocative sculptures stimulate reflection upon the individual’s relationship with various orchestrated environments.
Rachel Whiteread takes place from 12 September until 21 January. More information can be found at www.tate.org.uk
1. Untitled (Stairs) 2003, by Rachel Whiteread.