For this major new commission, Nnena Kalu (b. 1966, Glasgow) will work in situ in the gallery, creating a new series of large–scale sculptural installations. By binding, layering and wrapping materials, Kalu explores space, scale and texture through repetitive and durational sculptural processes.
Her installations often begin with multiple small, compact ‘cocoons’ of textiles, thread and paper tightly packed in cellophane and tape. With an emphasis on colour and volume, these spheres of bound materials are collected together around constructed frameworks and existing structures.
By augmenting her work in response to the surrounding architecture, Kalu disorganises understandings of her sculptures as objects, structures or landscapes. Continuously in production, Kalu’s vigorous, sprawling aggregations of plastic tubing, newspaper, foam and twine form dense clusters and layers of material, both transforming and accentuating the formal qualities of these everyday items.
The artist’s sculptures reflect the duration, rhythm and process of their making. Kalu’s energetic installations become an extension of her physical movements, centering an important relationship between the artist’s body and her sculptural forms. This exhibition is an exciting opportunity for visitors to experience Kalu’s practice first hand as she works on site throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Kalu’s commission is the first in Studio Voltaire elsewhere, a one–off series of ambitious offsite commissions for 2020. This is Kalu’s first major solo exhibition in a London institution, following acclaimed solo presentations at Glasgow International in 2018 and Humber Street Gallery, Hull in 2019. This commission is presented in partnership with ActionSpace.
Nnena Kalu (b. 1966, Glasgow) lives and works in London. Kalu is an important member of Studio Voltaire’s artistic community, and her work has previously been exhibited as part of group exhibitions in 2012 and 2015.
Recent exhibitions include: Nnena Kalu: Wrapping, Humber Street Gallery, Hull (2019); TUBE LINES, Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, London (2019); Spectrum Arts Prize, Saatchi Gallery, London (2018); Glasgow International Art Fair, Project Ability, Glasgow (2018); Spring Syllabus, J Hammond Projects, London (2018); Watch This Space, Wandsworth Arts Fringe, London (2017); Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2017); Capharnaum, Theatre de Liege, Le Madmusee, Liege (2016); Studio Voltaire OPEN, Selected by Cory Arcangel and Hanne Mugaas, Studio Voltaire, London (2015); Dizziness of Freedom, Bermondsey Project, London (2014); The Trouble with Painting Today, Pump House Gallery, London (2014); Epiphanies! Secrets of Outsider Art, St Pancras Hospital, London (2014); Side by Side, Southbank Centre, London (2013); SV12 Member’s Show, Selected by Jenni Lomax and Mike Nelson, Studio Voltaire, London (2012).
ActionSpace is a London-based visual arts organisation that supports artists with learning disabilities and creates innovative projects for people with learning disabilities to engage with the visual arts. Their work with high profile cultural organisations has helped to establish a place for artists with learning disabilities in the contemporary arts sector. They aim to make a professional career in the arts a realistic option for artists with learning disabilities.
Studio Voltaire presents an ambitious year–long programme of offsite projects for 2020 whilst we undertake The Studio Voltaire Capital Project. This programme celebrates some of the most pivotal commissions in our 25–year history. The site–specific programming will take place in extraordinary venues across London and comes at a time when our permanent home in Clapham is closed to the public whilst undergoing a transformative £2.4 million redevelopment.
Nnena Kalu, Dawn Mellor, Phyllida Barlow and Monster Chetwynd will create new work for this significant series. Each of these artists has a special relationship with Studio Voltaire, and this programme celebrates some of the most pivotal commissions within our institution’s history, reflecting our track record of supporting artists at key stages in their careers.
30 Old Burlington Street Mayfair, London W1S 3AR
21 February–28 March 2020
The Anglican Chapel at Nunhead Cemetery, Nunhead, SE15
Across sites in Clapham, Lambeth, SW4
Studio Voltaire will reopen in Autumn 2020.