Are you an artist over the age of 26 living or working in London? If yes, The London Open 2021 is your opportunity to have your work exhibited at Whitechapel Gallery. We want to see your work and learn about what you have been making since 2018.
London is known for its vibrant culture. But like many cities today, it is also experiencing change at accelerating paces, as its architectural, social and political fabric transforms, in turn impacting the experiences of many artists who live and work within it.
It is against this context, as well as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that we want to discover what artists have been working on over the past three years. The exhibition, taking place in summer 2021, will showcase what we and the selection panel find to be some of the most exciting working being made in the capital today. It will highlight the vibrancy and diversity of London and foreground the concerns of the selected artists.
Artists who exhibited in previous editions include Larry Achiampong, Frank Bowling, Alice Channer, Anish Kapoor, Heather Phillipson, Paula Rego, Veronica Ryan and Bob & Roberta Smith, among others. We’re delighted that Bob & Roberta Smith has recorded a message which describes how participating in The London Open has been a major platform at the start of his artistic career. You can see his video below.
The process of looking at each application carefully is both inspirational and eye-opening. As in previous years, we are excited to see work in all mediums including painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography, video, performance, sound, ceramics, textiles and installation. The openness of the criteria enables us to hear from a wide and diverse pool of artists and collectives, all with unique and singular points of view.
We know it can be daunting to apply to open calls as only a selection of artists are included in the final exhibition, however all the applications will be reviewed by members of Whitechapel’s curatorial team (including Emily Butler, Wells Fray–Smith and Inês Costa). A panel of experts from different areas of the artworld (an artist, a collector, a curator and a gallerist) will also see your work. The collector Maria Bukhtoyarova supports artists in the UK and overseas through her organisation Gaia Art Foundation. She has helped artists realise projects in London at Chisenhale Gallery, Somerset House, Delfina Foundation and Block Universe. Artist Shezad Dawood has lived, worked and taught in London for decades and brings experience working with a range of mediums from painting, film and virtual reality to performance, sculpture and textiles. Curator and scholar Christene Eyene is dedicated to unearthing hidden narratives within Art History through her Making Histories Visible project with artist Lubaina Himid. As Artistic Director of the 5th Biennale Internationale de Casablanca, she also commissions new work by both established and emerging artists. Finally, Stephan Tanbin Sastrawidjaja is the founder of Project Native Informant, a gallery in East London with a reputation for representing some of the most exciting artists and collectives working internationally today.
– Emily Butler, Inês Costa and Wells Fray-Smith