NEW CHIAROSCURO COLLECTION: THE ART OF LIGHT AND SHADOW
25th April 2022
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SERPENTINE PAVILION: THE ARCHITECTURAL EXPRESSION THAT CHANGES EVERY SUMMER

As lovers of art in all its forms, at GPC Mares we always have an eye on the artistic creations that emerge throughout the year. In this case, we focus our attention on the pavilion of the well-known Serpentine Gallery, located in Kensington Gardens in Hyde Park, London. Do you know its history?

FROM TEA HOUSE TO ART GALLERY

Opened in 1970 in what had been an old tea house, it was converted into a state art gallery to house the latest and most disruptive artworks. It all started in 2000 when the artist Julia Peyton-Jones – its director back then – wanted to celebrate the gallery’s 30 years of existence by building a temporary space with a less classic style, and which would be removed the next day.

That year, architect Zaha Hadid was in charge of designing the inaugural pavilion of what would end up becoming the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion series. Since then, every summer, the art gallery selects internationally renowned architectural professionals to freely design in just 6 months the ephemeral architectural work that is exhibited every summer in Kensington Gardens.

‘BLACK CHAPEL’: THE DESIGN FOR THE SERPENTINE PAVILION 2022 BY THEASTER GATES

The striking design for this summer’s 21st Serpentine Pavilion edition is titled ‘Black chapel‘ and has been created by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates. During the summer months, it becomes the platform that hosts the wide repertoire of live performances of the program the Serpentine Pavilion organizes. It can be visited for free until October 16th.

This sculptural construction, carried out with the support of the firm of Adjaye Associates and the sponsorship of Goldman Sachs, aims to go beyond architecture itself. It is an evocation of sacred spiritual environments, reflection, refuge and conviviality through its circular shape and the volume of its structure, which emulates a chapel (hence its name).

Specifically, the structure takes reference to the pottery bottle kilns of Stoke-on-Trent in England; the beehive ovens from western USA; St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Roman temples called tempiettos. What is more, other inspirations for the artist were the traditional African building structures such as the Musgum mud huts (from Cameroon) or the Kasabi tombs in Kampala (Uganda). The qualities of the Black Chapel also take inspiration from Gates’ ongoing experimentation with clay objects in his studio, as well as his interest in restoring urban projects.

ART INSIDE ART: ‘SEVEN SONGS FOR BLACK CHAPEL’

© Serpentine Gallery by Iwan Baan

Inside the ‘black chapel’, Gates added a series of paintings created with tar called Seven Songs for Black Chapel. The collection consists of seven paintings that reflect the sensitivity of the artist and pay homage to his father’s craft as a roofer using roofing techniques such as torch down. 

The motivation to include these paintings in his architectural project was Gates’ attraction to the meditative setting of another chapel, the Rothko Chapel (Houston, Texas), which exhibits fourteen paintings by American artist Mark Rothko inside.

‘Black Chapel’ is included in the multi-institutional project The Question of Clay, an investigation that Theaster Gates carries out on the elaboration, work and collecting of clay in order to publicize and promote the connections with this material.

© Serpentine Gallery by Hugo Glendinning

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