EXHIBITION – Fourth Plinth Shortlist

Arts and culture writer Eddie Saint-Jean visits the National Gallery to check out the current sculpture on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and the work of the six shortlisted artists.

From afar, the current sculpture The End, by artist Heather Phillipson, looks like a giant ice cream cone but wander a little closer and you’ll see it’s quite obviously whipped cream with a fly, cherry and drone on top. Well, that clears that one up!

By July 2021, the vote will be over and this sculpture will be replaced by a new commission.

There are six shortlisted art works and two will be selected as the Fourth Plinth commissions for 2022 and 2024.

You’ll find the exhibition in the National Gallery’s Annenberg Court space on Level 0. Free admission

The six artists are from the UK, Ghana, Mexico, America and Germany –  Ibrahim Mahama, Paloma Varga Weisz, Samson Kambalu, Goshka Macuga, Nicole Eisenman, Teresa Margolles

On Hunger and Farming in the Skies of the Past 1957-1966 Ibrahim Mahama

A recreation of a half complete grain silo in Tamale, northern Ghana abandoned in the 1960s during construction and now overrun by nature. Ibrahim Mahama’s work is a continuation of his narratives around found objects and their historical and cultural context.

Bumpman for Trafalgar Square Paloma Varga Weisz

The German-born sculptor and draughtswoman draws inspiration from her country’s folklore and 16th century pamphlet illustrations. The Bumpman is a quiet, humble figure whose body disfigurement draws attention to modern day issues of body dysmorphia.

Getting up close to Bumpman

Antelope Samson Kambalu

Kambalu’s bronze sculpture celebrates two important figures in Pan-Africanism, Malawian Baptist preacher John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley. The distinctive hats reference Chilembwe’s refusal to obey a rule which forbade blacks from wearing hats in the presence of whites.

Go No Go Goshka Macuga

The rocket launch, in sculptural visual language, represents the take off of a new post-Covid era. The juxtaposition of the start and end of a transformative period in history.

From the powerful cultural and historical references of Samson Kambula’s Antelope, to the rocket-charged visual language of Goshka Macuga’s GO NO GO.

The Jewellery Tree Nicole Eisenman

Size aside, this is no ordinary jewellery tree. The trinkets adorning it’s arms appear worthless, ephemeral and out of place but it’s up to the viewer to ponder the unseen value and hidden memories.

850 Improntas (850 Imprints) Teresa Margolles

The Mexican sculptor will create 850 face casts of members of the trans community. The total casts will be constructed to resemble a tzompantil skull rack from ancient meso-American civilisations used to display sacrifice victims or body parts from prisoners of war.

So who get’s your vote? Vote here.

Below are some of my previous National Gallery art reviews

Michelangelo and Sebastiano

Beyond Caravaggio

Shortlist for the Fourth Plinth 2018