Carlos Bunga: Something Necessary and Useful
Gallery 2, free entry
21 January – 6 September 2020

A creator of spectacular and immersive environments Carlos Bunga (b. 1976, Porto, Portugal) is the latest artist commissioned by the Whitechapel Gallery to create a major new site-specific artwork, going on free display for six months.

Using cardboard, tape and paint, Bunga creates cavernous structures and imaginary buildings to explore the transitory and corporeal nature of architecture. Bunga’s family had escaped the violence of the Angolan War of Independence in the 1970s only to experience the volatility of life at the edge of Portuguese society. Immersing us in his towering structures, Bunga then sweeps them away. Through these cycles of construction and destruction, he explores the mutating city and dispossession.

former Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick said ‘Carlos Bunga is a leading figure in a generation of artists who brilliantly combine sculpture, action, film and painting. Using a material associated with model making and packaging but also life on the streets, he creates powerfully symbolic environments that are both monumental and fragile.’

For his first major installation in London, Bunga devises an evolving installation constructed from cardboard, paint and repurposed domestic furniture We are encouraged to witness its creation, get lost in the painted surfaces and openings, wander among imaginary buildings and gaze up at textured canvases.

Through its course, the installation will change as it is cut by its maker, reconfigured and then destroyed. Bunga invites choreographer Joe Moran and dancers to perform in the gallery, exploring their shared interest in the relationship amongst bodies, physical space and time in a series of live events.

Drawing on his own experience of displacement, Bunga’s works recall theatre sets, architectural models, as well as temporary shelters. For this commission he is also inspired by the nineteenth-century American Shaker movement’s egalitarian ideals and advocacy of simplicity and beauty, exploring what is “necessary and useful” in art, architecture and design.

Carlos Bunga said: ‘Walking around the gallery, we have this experience of temporality between past and future. What links both is our presence, our body and its relation to the space.’

Notes to Editors

  • The exhibition is curated by Emily Butler, Mahera and Mohammad Abu Ghazaleh Curator, Whitechapel Gallery with Inês Costa, Assistant Curator.
  • It is accompanied by a fully-illustrated publication including installation images and the dance commission, to be launched in March 2020.
  • Supported by Whitechapel Gallery Commissioning Council: Dorota Audemars, Erin Bell, Heloisa Genish, Leili Huth, Irene Panagopoulos, Catherine Petitgas, Mariela Pissioti, Alex Sainsbury; and the Carlos Bunga Exhibition Circle: Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) – Programme for the Internationalisation of Spanish Culture (PICE) Mobility grants, Galería Elba Benítez, Nicoletta Fiorucci Russo (Founder, Fiorucci Art Trust), Fundaçáo Calouste Gulbenkian, Alejandro Lazaro, Institut Ramon Llull and Gonzalo Parodi.
  • The dance commission has been developed in collaboration with artist and choreographer Joe Moran, artistic director of Dance Art Foundation. Performances will be held over three evenings in March, May and July 2020 for the late night event Nocturnal Creatures.
  • A limited edition will accompany the exhibition.


About Carlos Bunga

Carlos Bunga (b. 1976, Porto) lives and works in Barcelona. He studied painting at the Escola Superior de Arte e Design in Caldas da Rainha in Portugal. Solo exhibitions include: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011), Museu Serralves, Porto (2012), Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2013), Haus Konstruktiv Museum, Zurich (2015) and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2015) and Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), Lisbon (2019), Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto and Secession, Vienna (both 2020). Group exhibitions include: Manifesta 5, San Sebastián (2004), the New Museum, New York (2007), Warsaw Museum of Modern Art (2009), 14th Carrara International Sculpture Biennial (2010), 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010), Artes Mundi 6, Cardiff (2013), and the Chicago Architecture Biennial (2015).His work is included in notable collections including: The Museum of Modern Art (New York); “la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art (Barcelona); and Hammer Museum (Los Angeles). He is currently represented by Galería Elba Benítez (Madrid) and Alexander and Bonin (New York).

About Whitechapel Gallery

For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George, Sarah Lucas and William Kentridge. With beautiful galleries, exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historic archives, education resources, inspiring art courses, dining room and bookshop, the Gallery is open all year round, so there is always something free to see. It is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter.

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Carlos Bunga Press Release - Final

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