Cathy Wilkes

Installation view, The Modern Institute, Osborne Street, Glasgow, 2023
The Modern Institute, 14–20 Osborne Street, Glasgow

The exhibition comprises a series of silk and linen panels primed with gum arabic and painted with pigments. It represents Wilkes’ first presentation containing solely painting, an element which has often been a part of the artist’s installations throughout her career.

The panels show subtly constructed landscapes and compositions of hypostatic objects. Rather than focussing on the visual, their creation is iterative and conceptually led. Wilkes finds a correlative to the interior relationships of her installations, with their careful negotiations of space and placement, on the painted surface.

The paintings are made and repeated till they’re finished. After a while I know what should be there: I start again over and over. I can feel the speed of each action, which is fast and has no real duration — just the briefest moment compared to long periods of waiting and looking. It doesn’t feel like production, production is too aggressive — it feels like continuous preparation, and then eventually recognition when I see it.

— Cathy Wilkes

The paintings harbour forms which exist at the edge of legibility with their titles providing a series of suggestions: My ashes will embrace you, Rocky Hillside, Sisters in Al-Sham. Collectively, their combination of celestial sparsity with the textures and colours of landscape conjures associations with loss and the wilderness — the pursuit of philosophical or religious meaning.

Through her enigmatic sculptural installations, Wilkes has explored and reflected on her childhood in Northern Ireland. This new body of paintings also tentatively constitutes various intimate spaces, at once anxious and banal, which encourage a reexamination of the everyday, its vicissitudes, routines and tender rituals.

Cathy Wilkes (b. 1966, Belfast; lives and works in Glasgow) represented Britain at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019 and was the inaugural recipient of the Maria Lassnig Prize in 2016, which was accompanied by a solo exhibition at MoMA PS1, New York. Wilkes’ work is held in numerous collections and was the subject of a major touring exhibition by Tate Liverpool in 2015. Selected solo exhibitions include: The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2021); Yale Union, Portland (2018); MoMA PS1, New York (2017-18); Tate Liverpool, touring to LENTOS, Kunstmuseum, Linz and Museum Abteiberg, Möenchengladbach (2015 – 2016); Tramway, Glasgow (2014); The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Chicago (2012); Gesellschaft Fur Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen (2011); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, (2011); Kunstverein, Munich (2011); Studio Voltaire, London (2009); and Milton Keynes Gallery (2008). Selected group exhibitions include: ‘One is always a plural’, Migros Museum fuáˆr Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland (2021), Psychic Wounds: On Art & Trauma, The Warehouse, Dallas, Texas (2021);‘FOOD – Ecologies of the Everyday’, the 13th Fellbach Triennial of Small-Scale Sculpture, Fellbach (2016); ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice (2013); ‘Studio 58: Women Artists in Glasgow Since WWII’, Mackintosh Museum, The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow (2012); and ‘Abstract Resistance’, Walker Arts Centre, Minneapolis (2010).