Above image: Nicole Eisenman Progress: Real and Imagined [right panel] 2006, Courtesy of Ringier AG / Sammlung Ringier, Switzerland
After almost three months of closure, East London’s Whitechapel Gallery are the latest arts institution to emerge blinking into the light, with plans to re-open on 14th July. The gallery will pick up where it left off before the arrival of a global pandemic, extending their spring exhibition program into the summer months, albeit with a litany of new safety protocols.
Their excellent group show, Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium (which opened at the beginning of February this year), will now be on show until 30th August, giving visitors an extended opportunity to marvel at the figurative paintings of Michael Armitage, Cecily Brown, Nicole Eisenman and Christina Quarles, among others. Also continuing is Carlos Bunga’s immersive installation Something Necessary and Useful, a series of environmentally portentous works selected by Verónica Gerber Bicecci titled In the Eye of Bambi, and a retrospective look back at a seminal painting exhibition originally held in 1981, featuring works from Georg Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer (Return of the Spirit in Painting).
Bruce McLean, Going for Gucci, 1984 (detail) Acrylic and emulsion on canvas, Photo courtesy the artist and Bernard Jacobson Gallery
Despite the continuity in programming, there are a number of significant changes visitors will have to bear in mind. Not only will entry to the gallery be timed (meaning visitors will have to book online in advance), a one-way system will be in place with multiple hand-sanitisers stationed at regular intervals. Visitors are encouraged to wear masks and gloves (front of house are required to do so), while social distancing protocols will be in place around the gallery, bookshop and restaurant.
Speaking ahead of the re-opening, Whitechapel’s director Iwona Blazwick emphasised the importance of public art institutions in light of recent months. “Experiencing great art can be healing and we hope the gallery can offer some solace and a much-needed space for reflection and inspiration. It is with gratitude and thanks to all our key workers, as well as a shared responsibility for the health of our communities, that we have reached a point where we can safely and responsibly open our doors once again.”
Carlos Bunga, Metamorphosis (detail), site specific installation at Miami Art Museum, Miami, 2009 © Oriol Tarridas Photography
Whitechapel Gallery will re-open 14th July 2020. Find more information on safety and programming here.