La Caixa launches at Whitechapel Gallery selected by Enrique Vila-Matas
Internationally acclaimed authors explore Spain’s leading collection of contemporary art in this series of four displays taking place over the course of a year. Each writer curates a display of artworks and contributes new writing based on their selection starting January 17 at Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Preeminent Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas (b. 1948, Spain) brings an intuitive and personal approach to the “la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art for the first display, opening in January 2019. Selecting installation, painting, film and photography by artists Gerhard Richter (b. 1932, Germany), Dominique González-Foerster (b. 1965, France) and Dora García (b. 1956, Spain), he also includes figurative and landscape works by Spanish and European artists of his generation.
The first institutional Spanish collection to focus on postwar contemporary art “la Caixa” was founded in Barcelona in 1985 as the country emerged from a period of dictatorship, to foster dialogue between Spanish and international art. It now includes more than 1,000 works by international artists across the mediums of painting, sculpture, photography, installation and film.
Enrique Vila-Matas is one of Spain’s leading literary figures whose many novels blur the boundaries between fiction and autobiography. Born in Barcelona in 1948 and based in the city today, his selection from the “la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art places Spanish and European artists in dialogue. The works become the starting point for a consideration of the author’s literary biography in his accompanying text for the exhibition entitled Cabinet d’amateur, an oblique novel (2019), an experimental mix of fiction and essay mirroring his wider work.
Gerhard Richter’s I.G (1993), a haunting portrait of a naked female figure who faces a dark interior with her back turned to the viewer is the first work seen on entering the gallery. Nearby a large video installation by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Petite (2001), shows a young girl seated on the floor in a glass room as ghostly images appear and disappear behind her. In a video by Dora Garcia a child is instructed in breathing techniques by a woman in the manner of a dance or music lesson. Carlos Pazos’ (b. 1949, Spain) self-portrait Milonga (1980) is a staged photograph depicting the artist lost in melancholic reverie in a Barcelona bar. Thebes, West (1993) is a composite photograph from a bird’s eye view by Andreas Gursky (b. 1955, Germany) of the archaeological site of ancient Thebes in Egypt while Miquel Barcelo’s (b. 1957, Spain) large painting Une poignée de terre (1989) made soon after the artist’s first trip to Mali in West Africa, depicts a patch of earth at ground level.
Images courtesy of artists credited above and Whitechapel Gallery, London.