Phyllida Barlow to Represent Britain at 2017 Venice Biennale

Barlow's work will challenge the architecture of the British Pavilion.

Portrait of Phyllida Barlow with dock 2014 J Fernandes, Tate Photography
Portrait of Phyllida Barlow with dock 2014 J Fernandes, Tate Photography

Phyllida Barlow has been selected to represent Britain at the 57th Venice Biennale. The sculptor will have a solo exhibition in the British Pavilion from the 13th of May to the 26th of November 2017, the British Council announced today.

“I am astonished, thrilled, and of course hugely excited,” Barlow told the BBC, “It is going to be a remarkable experience to begin to consider the work for the imposing architecture of the British pavilion… I cannot imagine a more invigorating and wonderful challenge,” she added.

Barlow is known for her large sculptures and installations (often labeled “three-dimensional collages”), which experiment with different grades of materials and linger somewhere between ephemeral and monumental. The massiveness alone gives her works command, but there is liveliness and spirit in the DIY nature of her resources, which include materials such as cardboard and fabric, as well as construction materials.

British Council director Emma Dexter, chairwoman of the Venice Biennale Selection Committee, told the BBC she was “truly delighted” at the choice. “Barlow transforms and dynamically alters every exhibition space she encounters. I am hugely excited at the prospect of seeing what she will bring to the neo-classicism of the British Pavilion,” Dexter stated.

dock, 2014 <br>Photo: J Fernandes, Tate Photography

Phyllida Barlow dock, (2014)
Photo: J Fernandes, Tate Photography

Barlow taught at Slade for more than 40 years, and has mentored and influenced numerous successful young artists throughout her career (including her son, Eddie Peake, who recently exhibited at the Barbican in London).

Her work has been exhibited at numerous impressive institutions worldwide, and she was elected a Royal Academician in 2011. Just recently at the end of 2015, Barlow received a CBE and was inducted into the Order of the British Empire for her services to the arts.

In an interview about dock (2014), a piece commissioned by the Tate Britain for the Duveen Galleries, Barlow discusses her project focusing intently on the challenging architecture of the space.

Christine Macel, the chief curator at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, is the artistic director of the 2017 Venice Biennale.


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