In Conversation: Zoé Whitley and Anqi Li on ‘Jack Whitten’
We joined Zoé Whitley, Director of Chisenhale Gallery and Anqi Li, Curator of Education and Public Programmes at Para Site for a conversation in celebration of the exhibition ‘Jack Whitten,’ entitled ‘Art is Our Compass to the Cosmos.’ The exhibition is Whitten’s first solo exhibition in Asia and is on view at Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong through 31 July. The conversation starts with a virtual gallery walkthrough and expands on how—to call on Whitten’s words from his final log entry in 2017—‘art is our compass to the cosmos.’
About Dr. Zoé Whitley
Dr. Zoé Whitley is, since March 2020, director of Chisenhale Gallery in London’s East End. A leading non-profit space founded by artists, Chisenhale produces and commissions new works of art with emerging British and international artists. In 2020, Zoé curated Frieze London’s special themed section, Possessions, exploring spirituality and contemporary art, and co-curated Elijah Pierce’s America at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Previous exhibitions to her credit include Cathy Wilkes’ British Pavilion presentation at the Venice Biennale in 2019 and co-curating the award-winning Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. She writes widely on contemporary artists and 20th century designers, including a children’s book on Frank Bowling and a forthcoming title in the same series on Sophie Taeuber-Arp.
She serves on the 2020-21 Arts Council Collection committee in the UK. Zoé serves on the boards of Creative Access, the only organisation in the UK dedicated to recruiting under-represented talent in the creative industries, and Decolonising Arts Institute, University of the Arts London. Her prior roles include Senior Curator (Hayward Gallery), Curator, International Art (Tate Modern) and Curator of Contemporary Programmes (V&A).
About Anqi Li
Anqi Li is the Curator of Education and Public Programmes at Para Site, Hong Kong’s leading contemporary art centre and one of the oldest and most active independent art institutions in Asia. She curates and manages public programming, including the upcoming exhibition Curtain in collaboration with Rockbund Art Museum, the annual International Conference, Workshops for Emerging Arts Professionals, PS Paid Studio Visits, International Residency, internship, and publications. She was previously a part of several non-profit art organisations in the United States, including Harvard Art Museums and Hammer Museum. She graduated from San Francisco Art Institute with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, and Harvard University with a Master’s in Arts in Education.
About the exhibition
Beginning 30 March 2021, Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong presents American abstractionist Jack Whitten’s first solo exhibition in Asia. Celebrated for his innovative processes of applying paint to the surface of his canvases and transfiguring their material terrains, Whitten’s work bridges rhythms of gestural abstraction and process art, arriving at a nuanced language of painting that hovers between mechanical automation and intensely personal expression.
Consisting of rarely seen paintings, sculpture and works on paper, the exhibition highlights a selection of works from the 1960s through 2010s. Blurring the boundaries between sculpture and painting, and between the artist’s studio and the world outside, the multidimensional paintings on view combine geometric abstraction and found objects to mine spiritual and metaphysical thematic veins. Works on paper emphasize the artist’s playfulness and improvisational skill in searching for his own special visual language, a testament to his commitment to drawing as a means to make manifest his ideas and advance his methods. Together, the works on view reveal an artist of extraordinary sensitivity, capable of imbuing modernist abstraction with the vibrations of historical narratives and bringing the spiritual and material realms into alignment.