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Exhibition showcases nine artists and their plans to create major public artworks for London railway
Installation view at the Whitechapel Gallery Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth line Gallery 5 13 March – 6 May 2018. Photo: Stephen White.

LONDON.- Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth line opened today at the Whitechapel Gallery, showcasing nine internationally renowned artists and their plans to create major public artworks for London’s newest railway, the Elizabeth line. Curated by the Whitechapel Gallery in partnership with Crossrail, the exhibition brings together sketches, maquettes and prototypes to reveal the artists’ ideas transformed into deliverable public art.

The artists and the locations for their new artworks on the Elizabeth line from West to East are: Spencer Finch (Paddington); Darren Almond (Bond Street), Douglas Gordon (Tottenham Court Road), Richard Wright (Tottenham Court Road), Simon Periton (Farringdon), Yayoi Kusama (Liverpool Street), Conrad Shawcross (Liverpool Street), Chantal Joffe (Whitechapel), and Michal Rovner (Canary Wharf).

Each artist has been commissioned by The Crossrail Art Foundation to create works of art sympathetic to the locality, history or function of the stations, forming a string of cultural interventions across central London from December 2018. The works will be installed in a variety of locations including halls, escalator shafts, platforms and other public spaces.

The Whitechapel Gallery worked with the Crossrail Art Foundation to select Chantal Joffe (b.1968, UK) as the artist for Whitechapel. Inspired by painters such as Matisse and Picasso, she made studies of passers-by on Whitechapel High Street one Sunday afternoon, to create monumental and vividly coloured portraits celebrating local people on the platforms of Whitechapel station.

The Crossrail Art Foundation was founded in 2014 with support from the City of London Corporation with a mission to promote art for the benefit of the public by establishing and maintaining a public art programme that will enhance the journeys of the millions of people who will use the Elizabeth line. This ambitious art project is realised by combining the disciplines of art, crafts, architecture, engineering, transport, civic government and corporate sponsorship.

Iwona Blazwick, Whitechapel Gallery Director said: “The Crossrail Art programme brings world class art straight from the tube to Londoners and the city’s international public. The Whitechapel Gallery is proud to exhibit the most ambitious art commissions of our age; and to have selected Chantal Joffe as artist for Whitechapel Station where her sequence of monumental and vibrant portraits will immortalise East Enders.”

Terry Morgan, Chair, Crossrail said: “This fantastic new exhibition showcases the creative ideas of leading British and international artists who are working with Crossrail’s architects and engineers to integrate public art into the very fabric of the new Elizabeth line stations. Thanks to the imagination and determination of the Art Programme team, sponsors and supporters, the Elizabeth line will be the single biggest addition to the capital’s public art scene in a generation and will cement London’s place as a global capital for arts and culture.”

Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth line is presented at Whitechapel Gallery across three gallery spaces, with all nine artist projects illustrated alongside a short film.

The works displayed in galleries five and six are related to artworks planned for Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon Elizabeth line stations.

The display features a taxonomy of clouds sketched in pastel by Spencer Finch (b. 1962, USA), an artist celebrated for installations, films and colour wheels inspired by natural phenomena. Digitally printed onto glass his cloud studies will make up a vast glazed canopy for Paddington station.

Darren Almond (b.1971, UK) makes photographs and texts about geological, botanical and human time. His bronze and aluminium boiler plated texts for the ticket hall and escalator areas at Bond Street evoke historic locomotives and expeditions. A selection of drawings and architectural plans are shown here.

This gallery also includes neon signs by Douglas Gordon (b.1966, UK) an artist who samples film and language to explore the comedy and tragedy of being. His work for Tottenham Court Road’s western ticket hall at Dean Street is inspired by the 1960s nightlife of its Soho neighbourhood.

Rising over the escalators of the eastern ticket hall at Tottenham Court Road will be a delicate spatial tracery of intricate gold leaf motifs painted by Richard Wright (b.1960, UK) whose work echoes the geometric and baroque patterns that have ornamented architectural monuments over centuries.

Simon Periton (b.1962, UK) makes lacy paper and metal cut outs that look botanical yet are tangled with signs of the sinister and the subversive. Hatton Garden’s diamond quarter and the elaborate Victorian metalwork of Smithfield’s meat market inspire his artworks for both ticket halls at Farringdon station.

Gallery 4 (Archive Gallery) features artists’ proposals for Liverpool Street, Whitechapel and Canary Wharf. Conrad Shawcross (b.1977, UK) animates large machine-like structures of metal and wood with lyrical sound, kinetic lights and dance-like movements. He conceives a bronze sculpture that explores the visual potential for harmonics outside Liverpool Street’s western ticket hall at Moorgate.

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929, Japan) is renowned for her infinity rooms and dot patterned images and forms. Her vocabulary of repetition and excess will find expression in highly polished stainless steel sculptures that will confront Liverpool Street commuters with imitations of infinity. They will be situated outside the station’s eastern ticket hall at Broadgate

Michal Rovner (b. 1957, Israel) makes visually entrancing films and installations that look abstract yet are based on the movement of people and places. Her epically scaled digital screen outside the new Canary Wharf station is inspired by its architecture and how it choreographs a dynamic flow of travellers.

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