Art, News I 09.05.17 I by

Artist Phyllida Barlow ‘spills the guts’ of the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Phyllida Barlow has ruptured the neoclassical architecture of the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale with a series of colossal sculptures.

The artist’s installation – titled Folly and commissioned by the British Council – pours out of the pavilion and into the grounds of the Giardini della Biennale.

‘It seemed very important to come outside the building – to spill its guts in some way,’ says Barlow. ‘It’s something I do. It’s not necessarily an obsession with large works. It’s more the relationship of exploring the space with physical stuff that’s bigger than myself.’

Phyllida Barlow's Folly installation in British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Installation view, Folly, by Phyllida Barlow at the British Pavilion, Venice, 2017. Photo: Ruth Clark © British Council. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Visitors will be greeted by oversized, multicoloured baubles around the pavilion’s portico and steps. Once inside the building, they’ll find vast columns soaring to the ceiling. Barlow’s sculptures disrupt and bisect the spaces, leading people on a labyrinthine journey through the building.

Phyllida Barlow's Folly installation in British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Installation view, Folly, by Phyllida Barlow at the British Pavilion, Venice, 2017. Photo: Ruth Clark © British Council. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

‘I hope it’s a very theatrical encounter,’ she says.

Folly riffs on the functionless architectural feature, as well as the notion of foolishness and playfulness. As with much of Barlow’s work, it toys with notions of fact and fiction in both art and architecture, with the viewer becoming the protagonist or ‘explorer’.

Phyllida Barlow's Folly installation in British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Installation view, Folly, by Phyllida Barlow at the British Pavilion, Venice, 2017. Photo: Ruth Clark © British Council. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Explains the artist: ‘That exploration leads into a relationship about whether the space dominates the work or the work dominates the space – or whether it’s somewhere in between.’

Phyllida Barlow’s British Council commission is at the Biennale Arte 2017 from 13 May to 26 November. www.britishcouncil.org/venicebiennale

Discover more spectacles not to miss at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

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