To Be Or Not To be – Giulio Paolini at Whitechapel Gallery, London

This July, the Whitechapel Gallery presents To Be Or Not To Be an exhibition featuring key works from the Renaissance to the present day by the Italian artist Giulio Paolini.

The exhibition is comprised of photographs, installations playing on shadows and light, a photographic reproduction of iconic paintings by Chardin, Lotto and Velázquez, plaster casts of classical sculptures, self portraits, and recurring motifs of the artist’s hands and eyes. The show explores the nature of images, the making of art, the role of the artist and the relationship between the artist and the artwork.

© ph. Luciano Romano 2012  Alpha (An Author without Name), 2004 . Photographic reproductions on plexiglass (70 x 122 x 122cm)

The show encompasses a comprehensive array of pivotal historic works. In the centre of the gallery, the large-scale floor piece Essere o non essere, meaning To Be or Not To Be (1994-95) is laid out like a checkerboard strewn with canvases, pencils and drawings, pointing to a continual process of construction and deconstruction. Another highlight is Delfo (Delphi) (1965), a photographic self-portrait of the artist wearing dark glasses, confronting the viewer from behind the wooden supports of an unstretched painting. The show also includes a whole lot more of paintings and installations theatrically staged throughout the space and a miniature artist’s studio surrounded  by works in progress with canvases and scrunched up papers seemingly thrown across the floor.

WG. Paolini_Delfo_1965 4            Delfo [Delphi] 1965. Photo emulsion on canvas (180 x 95 cm)

Paolini, one of the major figures in Conceptual Art, emphasises that a work of art is not just itself in the “here and now” but also the record of earlier tradition; a work of art must be related to the past and “must forget about its author”, which leads to the authenticity.

by Xenia Founta

Images courtesy of Giulio Paolini, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, Walker Art Center and Minneapolis

The exhibition opens on July, 9 until September, 14, 2014

Whitechapel Gallery, Galleries 1, 8 & Victor Petitgas Gallery (Gallery 9), 77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX

Free Entry