Theaster Gates’s Black Chapel Serpentine pavilion review – a welcoming labour of love

Serpentine Gallery, London Gates uses an artist’s touch to create a dignified, Staffordshire kiln-inspired structure that celebrates community and work – and honours his late father Last autumn, at the Whitechapel Gallery in east London, the Chicagoan artist Theaster Gates exhibited works in clay: large, heavy, wrought objects, shaped by hand, formed with intense heat and effort. In last week’s intermittent summer sunshine, outside the Serpentine Gallery in west London, he opened Black Chapel, a timber cylinder clad in dark roofing membrane, its interior divided by an off-centre wall into a larger and a smaller part. It is this year’s edition of the Serpentine’s annual pavilion, a temporary structure usually designed (but not this year) by architects. It is light where the clay works are heavy. Its charred tone might prompt a thought about energy: how many pavilions would have to burn to fire one of the ceramic pieces? Its early inspirations include the historical, bottle-shaped kilns of Stoke-on-Trent’s potteries, but the design has gone through some evolutions towards something more spare. It now more nearly resembles other kinds of working structure, the silos and granaries of midwestern agriculture. Continue reading...

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