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Exhibition shows art from exceptional but rarely-seen public and private collections
Francis Alÿs, The Upset Bucket, 1991–92. Oil on canvas (oil, graphite and masking tape on vellum in two parts) Painting 31.8 × 40 × 5.1 cm Drawing 43.8 × 64.8 × 5.1 cm. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London © Francis Alÿs.

LONDON.- The Whitechapel Gallery presents The Upset Bucket, a new display continuing the Gallery’s commitment to showing art from exceptional but rarely-seen public and private collections. The Upset Bucket is part of a year-long programme dedicated to the ISelf Collection, a private collection of contemporary art which focuses on the investigation of self, personal identity and the nature of being.

Francis Alÿs’ The Upset Bucket is the title of the display. Exhibited for the first time since 1992, the same year that the artwork was made, the work comprises a partially rolled canvas depicting a dog, an overturned chair and a spilt bucket, and is hung on a brightly painted patterned wall. This enigmatic, domestic scene encourages viewers to reflect on what possessions might say about their owners. Exhibited here with a further 27 artworks by leading international artists, including installation, sculpture and photography, this new display explores how people shape a sense of self through their relationship with others and through the material world.

Many of the works in the show draw attention to the notion that people project their identity through their appearances and consumer choices. Matthew Darbyshire’s museum-like display of household objects, including Ikea shelves, souvenir Murano vases, Cristal d’Arque champagne flutes and acrylic water pipes, for example, questions the extent to which people imbue certain objects with aspirational codes.

Visitors are prompted to reconsider the everyday use and value of objects, repurposing industrial materials and found materials, such as Rayyane Tabet’s suitcases that are encased in concrete as a universal and timeless symbol of migration issues. Karla Black constructs large-scale sculptures from ephemeral materials including cosmetic powder, while Ellen Gallagher creates delicate assemblages from glossy African-American beauty magazines in Spoils (2011).

The exhibition also considers how artists explore discarded materials including waste and its receptacles: Gabriel Kuri’s sculpture consists of precariously stacked wire bins, while the photographs by William Eggleston and Richard Wentworth capture beauty in the everyday, depicting a colourful dumpster and a found assemblage of trash bags respectively.

Vertical sculptures examining how people instil sensual and spiritual meaning in quotidian objects occupy the central position of the gallery; Ugo Rondinone’s orange yellow green blue pink red mountain (2015) work, for example, features mountain stones painted with day-glo colours recalling ritualistic totems.

Linder combines pornographic images with cosmetic, food and luxury watch advertising to address the relationship between desire and consumerism, and, likewise Paul McCarthy’s Brancusi Tree (silver) (2007) resembles both a sexual gadget and a monumental modernist sculpture.

Also on display are works by: Ai Weiwei, Lynda Benglis, Walead Beshty, Martin Boyce, Alice Channer, Claire Fontaine, Thomas Demand, Ceal Floyer, Mona Hatoum, Georg Herold, Jim Lambie, Mike Nelson, Damián Ortega, Daniel Sinsel, Rudolf Stingel, Wolfgang Tillmans and Erika Verzutti.

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