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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Anya Gallaccio

b. 1963, United Kingdom

Unpredictable is just one of the terms that comes to mind when describing Anya Gallaccio's site-specific installations made using organic matter. From chocolate to sugar, fruit, ice, flowers and more, Gallaccio's materials naturally decay throughout the duration of her exhibitions, allowing the work to shift with time. As a result, her work differs amongst the memories of each viewer and is extremely difficult to catalogue.

Among Gallaccio's performances and installations, the most renowned is her chocolate room, Stroke (2014) at Edinburgh's Jupiter Artland. With walls created from nearly 90 pounds of chocolate, the interactive installation was lightly scented and beckoned visitors to interact by picking, licking, stroking or biting its surface, suggesting themes of anticipation and lust. As with most of her installations, the smell was at first inviting and enjoyable, but over time became increasingly unpleasant and overpowering. Another example of this is preserve 'beauty' (1991–2003), an installation comprised of bright red flowers arranged within four adjacent rectangular glass panels. Positioned neatly with stalks facing downward, the work recalls both traditionally feminine hobbies such as flower pressing or arranging, and still life and landscape painting genres. However, the ephemeral installation changes drastically throughout its period of display, beyond the control of the artist, gallery or audience. Soon enough the flowers wither, die and rot, decomposing onto the floor below, thereby reverting the romantic connotations of red flowers typically gifted from man to woman. This is experienced not only visually, but also through smell.

Alongside love and decay, other themes inherent to Gallaccio's work include the role of mass production, disposable commodities and consumerism, particularly in relation to waste normally hidden from view. Viewers of her work are consumers and therefore complicit in its waste and decay cycle. Her surrounding environments also heavily influence her practice; when in 2008 she moved from London to San Diego, Gallaccio started incorporating materials such as limestone and granite from the West Coast into her works, as with I still can't remember when or how I lost my way (2014). Though these open cubes are seemingly perfect, mechanised constructions of geometry, blending into their surroundings, each slab of stone is unique in colour and pattern and contains a geological history of its own.

An instrumental and key player of the generation of Young British Artists, Gallaccio was included in the legendary 1988 exhibition, Freeze, curated by Damien Hirst at the London Docklands. She trained at Kingston Polytechnic College and Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2003 she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, and her work has appeared in exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2015); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2011); Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2007); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2007); Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2004); Tate Britain, London (2003); Serpentine Gallery, London (2000); and Hayward Gallery, London (1997); to name a select few. Presently, Gallaccio splits her time between London and San Diego, where she is a professor at the University of California San Diego.

Jessica Douglas | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Untitled by Anya Gallaccio contemporary artwork Anya GallaccioUntitled, 2016–2018 Ceramic
30.5 x 21 x 15 cm
Thomas Dane Gallery
Untitled by Anya Gallaccio contemporary artwork Anya GallaccioUntitled, 2018 Ceramic, avery slip, shino glaze
19.2 x 23.6 x 25.2 cm
Thomas Dane Gallery
Untitled by Anya Gallaccio contemporary artwork Anya GallaccioUntitled, 2018 Ceramic
27 x 20 x 16 cm
Thomas Dane Gallery
Untitled by Anya Gallaccio contemporary artwork Anya GallaccioUntitled, 2018 Ceramic, avery slip, temmuku tips
43 x 31 x 17 cm
Thomas Dane Gallery
Untitled by Anya Gallaccio contemporary artwork Anya GallaccioUntitled, 2018 Ceramic
14.6 x 24 x 25.8 cm
Thomas Dane Gallery
Untitled by Anya Gallaccio contemporary artwork Anya GallaccioUntitled, 2016 Dirt, mixed pigment on paper, framed
53.3 x 55.9 cm (incl frame)
Thomas Dane Gallery
No Better Place Than This by Anya Gallaccio contemporary artwork Anya GallaccioNo Better Place Than This, 1995 Beeswax candles, glass, wood
73 x 183 x 183 cm
Thomas Dane Gallery

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Anya Gallaccio Ocula Conversation
in partnership with the 21st Biennale of Sydney
Anya Gallaccio Artist

Anya Gallaccio's practice is characterised by the twin notions of control and transition and, in particular, how each can be implemented and represented. Her approach often involves setting in motion a process and then letting go. Her use of materials that innately decay, melt, rot and transform, speak to the mutability of material and place. The...

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In Related Press

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The 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018) announces first 21 artists for its 45th anniversary exhibition Related Press The 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018) announces first 21 artists for its 45th anniversary exhibition 6 April 2017

The world-renowned Biennale of Sydney is back next year to celebrate its 45th anniversary exhibition. Set to maintain its status as the largest and best-attended contemporary arts event in Australia, the 21st Biennale of Sydney is anticipated to once again bring an impressive and diverse range of contemporary artists and artworks to the...

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Interrogating Architecture Related Press Interrogating Architecture Aesthetica Magazine : 5 February 2017

There has long been a profound and complex relationship between sculpture and architecture, with many artists encountering or breaking down a boundary between the two disciplines. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, questions what we know and understand about design through [Re]construct, a group exhibition selected from the Arts Council...

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In her own words: Maria Balshaw, new director of Tate Related Press In her own words: Maria Balshaw, new director of Tate The Art Newspaper : 19 January 2017

As 2016 drew to a close, we asked Maria Balshaw, the director of Manchester Art Galleries and the Whitworth at the University of Manchester, to pick her highlights of the year. Last week, the news leaked that she will succeed Nicholas Serota as the next director of the Tate.Balshaw is due to take up the post in June, the first woman to fill the...

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Anya Gallaccio at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Related Press Anya Gallaccio at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Ocula : 20 July 2015

Anya Gallaccio is known for installations that employ organic materials that are subject to change and decay—flowers and fruit, sugar and ice—even as her work is inflected with a minimalist vocabulary suggesting durability and timelessness. Recently she has begun working with stone, exploring the sense of time embedded in this...

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