Rachel Whiteread

This article is from 2007.

Turner Prize winning sculptor with absent and haunting reflections

Rachel Whiteread’s works are in a direct lineage with late 60s and early 70s minimalist sculpture, where the literal ‘objectness’ of art was emphasised. When some sculptors removed the plinth that was once used to present their work to the viewer – a box that raised the sculpture and separated it from reality – certain artists looked at the wall behind the piece, while others concerned themselves with the floor.

Whiteread’s work records the absence of an (art) object. In casting and photographing the space underneath and around the flotsam and jetsam of the everyday (she will exhibit both in her show at the Ingleby), she raises this tangible absence to monumental proportions. It is difficult not to over-romanticise her work; fragments, reflections, lacks and absences automatically elicit some of the most instantaneous yet trite kinds of emotion, namely, histrionic melancholia.
But her work goes beyond such a cheap appeal to effect. These existentially groping abstract masses stand in dexical relation to the human body; they take up the spaces that we stand, sit on, lie on and crawl under. They’re horrific, the repeated, abstracted patterns of piled bodies in extreme rigor mortis. (Alexander Kennedy)

Ingleby Gallery, Carlton Terrace, 0131 556 4441, 28 Jul–4 Aug, free.

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