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Cathy Wilkes

Cathy Wilkes

Cathy Wilkes is a contemporary artist whose work has captivated audiences around the world with its profound exploration of human emotion, vulnerability, and the complexities of everyday life. While best known for her large-scale installations, Wilkes’ work combines various media such as painting, drawing, as well as sculpture, and makes further use of found objects. Her art often incorporates materials from everyday life, linking ordinary or personal experiences to broader more universal themes like birth, marriage, parenthood, and mortality.

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HENI NEWS

Written on Water at Mathew Marks Gallery in Los Angeles

Written on Water at Mathew Marks Gallery in Los Angeles

HENI News · 26 Jun, 2024 @ 14:28

Mathew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles presents a group show Written on Water at Mathew Marks Gallery in Los Angeles, June 29 until August 17.

Pick of the best gallery exhibitions across Scotland

The Herald · 14 Jun, 2024 @ 03:40

The works on display in this exhibition were created from objects found as a result of rummaging through skips, flea markets and junk shops across Edinburgh and further afield.

Glasgow International has no title—but it certainly has a point

Glasgow International has no title—but it certainly has a point

The Art Newspaper · 12 Jun, 2024 @ 15:42

Instead director Richard Birkett prefers to emphasise what he describes as the “collectivity” and “polyvocality” of the Glasgow arts scene—its arts and community organisations, artist run spaces, artist and independent curators—and to demonstrate how this ecosystem connects with artists worldwide.

 

About the Artist

Cathy Wilkes is a contemporary artist whose work has captivated audiences around the world with its profound exploration of human emotion, vulnerability, and the complexities of everyday life. While best known for her large-scale installations, Wilkes’ work combines various media such as painting, drawing, as well as sculpture, and makes further use of found objects. Her art often incorporates materials from everyday life, linking ordinary or personal experiences to broader more universal themes like birth, marriage, parenthood, and mortality.

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1966, Wilkes attended Glasgow School of Art from 1985 to 1988, before graduating from the University of Ulster in 1992 with an MFA. It was in Glasgow, where she opened her first solo exhibition at Transmission in 1991 and began to gain recognition in the art world.Wilkes' work is characterized by its use of found objects and everyday materials, which she assembles into enigmatic and emotionally charged installations. Her art challenges the boundaries between sculpture and installation, often incorporating elements of both. The materials she chooses, such as worn clothing, furniture, and domestic objects, carry traces of human presence and history, imbuing her work with a sense of nostalgia and melancholy.

One of the defining features of Wilkes' art is its ability to evoke a wide range of emotions in the viewer. Her installations are often populated with figures, both human and non-human, at times child-like, which are painstakingly crafted and arranged to create poignant, if sometimes unsettling, tableaus. These figures seem to exist in a state of profound vulnerability and isolation, inviting viewers to contemplate the complexities of human existence.

Wilkes' international recognition grew steadily throughout the 2000s, starting with her participation in prestigious exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale in 2005, where she represented Scotland. In 2008 she was nominated for the Turner Prize and in 2017 she was awarded the inaugural Maria Lassnig Prize. 14 years after representing Scotland, she returned to Venice in 2019 in order to represent Britain at the 58th Venice Biennale. Wilkes presented a sparse display, combining paintings, anthropomorphic sculptures, and domestic objects – from vases and plates to clothing and garments. The materials as well as the figures used in her installation, reminisce of and allude to the home and maternal experiences. Through visual cues such as a 1950s dress and the spatial separation of the figure in the dress and other child-like figures, Wilkes displays a notion of ambivalent emotions and offers a critique of women’s domestic role, unpaid labour, and caregiving.

As she continues to create and exhibit her work around the world, exploring themes of motherhood, family, and the passage of time, Cathy Wilkes remains a powerful voice in contemporary art. Her ability to capture the complexities of human existence, and to elicit a profound emotional response from viewers, while including a deeply personal sensitivity is a testament to her artistic vision and her enduring relevance in the ever-evolving world of art.

Interested in Cathy Wilkes?