Today marks the reopening of the newly expanded Whitechapel Gallery in East London. After a two-year refurbishment period, the building’s Art Nouveau facade, rebuffed and renewed, has been revealed and the doors have been flung open to an eager public.
In the heart of the East End, an area inhabited by immigrants and students, it sits around the corner from trendy and eclectic Brick Lane, on a street lined with newsagents and wholesale merchants. Located on Whitechapel High Street, the gallery’s surroundings are more vibrant and rough around the edges than its heavyweight West End counterparts, and lend an exciting and offbeat air to the gallery experience.
The Whitechapel is a gallery of both local interest and international standing. It has been host to the first solo shows of artists including Gilbert and George and Peter Doig. In 1939 it exhibited Picasso’s Guernica and a tapestry reproduction of the painting is currently on display as part of Goshka Macuga’s site-specific installation, The Nature of the Beast. The exhibition, reflecting upon issues of politics, war and propaganda, is found in the new ground-floor exhibition hall and also features a sculptural bust of Colin Powell, brandishing a vial of anthrax. The main exhibition room is home to Isa Genzken’s Open Sesame and the Micheal Craig-Martin curated exhibition, Passports: Great Early Buys from the British Council Collection, bears several gems, including one of Bridget Riley’s early works in colour.
The gallery’s bold presentation of simultaneous contrasting exhibitions reflects the indefinable diversity of art work being made today. With an exciting program of upcoming events incorporating performance, poetry and film, the Whitechapel Gallery has resumed its place at the core of the vibrant district of contemporary art in the East End.77-82 Whitechapel High St
London, E1 7QX