Ali Cherri, a Beirut-born artist whose work is inspired by artefacts and the natural world, is the National Gallery’s new Artist in Residence for 2021. The award is a collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society, while the UK Partner Museum for this residency will be the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, marking the Coventry UK City of Culture 2021. The Contemporary Art Society’s contribution is generously supported by Anna Yang and Joseph Schull.
Ali Cherri (b. 1976) is the second Artist in Residence to be chosen since the launch of the Gallery’s new Modern and Contemporary Programme, following the first appointment of Rosalind Nashashibi in 2019.
Born in Lebanon and based in Beirut and Paris, Cherri uses sculpture, film and installation to pursue the meaning of the built environment and its histories. Often using archaeological relics and sites as a starting point, Cherri’s varied practice explores the processes of excavation, relocation and the museum classification of objects, animal artefacts, images, and their narratives.
Interested in the aesthetics, practices and politics that are associated with classifications and collecting, Cherri has been invited to respond to the National Gallery and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum to display new work in their spaces.
Cherri, who will begin his residency in April 2021, will work over the course of a year in the National Gallery’s on-site artist’s studio, benefiting from the close proximity to its collection, research and archives. This will culminate in a publication and a display featuring Cherri’s work at the National Gallery in the autumn 2021. With the support of the Contemporary Art Society, one of the works relating to the residency will enter the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum’s collection and go on display there in 2022.
The jury was impressed by Cherri’s practice in sculpture and installation, particularly his use and reframing of historic objects and artefacts to connect to contemporary society. The panel consisted of Aaron Cezar, Director, Delfina Foundation, London; Alfredo Cramerotti, Director, MOSTYN, Llandudno; Lubaina Himid, Artist and Professor of Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancaster; Caroline Douglas, Director, Contemporary Art Society; Catherine Goodman Artist Trustee at the National Gallery and Director of The Prince’s Drawing School, London; Martin Roberts, Senior Curator, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry; and Daniel F. Herrmann, Curator Modern and Contemporary Projects, the National Gallery, London.
The Artist in Residence position is designed for an artist in the middle of their career who will benefit from unparalleled access to the Gallery’s collection. The partnership between the National Gallery and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum allows the artist to respond to one of the greatest collections of paintings in the Western European tradition, as well as an outstanding collection of visual arts, and artefacts of social and industrial history, archaeology and natural history. In a move to enrich regional collections, the Residency enables a work by Cherri to travel to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, where it will be acquired by the Contemporary Art Society for the Coventry Museum’s permanent collection.
Ali Cherri said: “It is an honour to have been invited as the Artist in Residence at the National Gallery. The past year has been unprecedented for art institutions, allowing for rethinking the role of the museum in times of crises. I am thrilled to be able to spend the year in close proximity with the Gallery’s unique collection, as well as that of The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. Giving a contemporary artist access to one of the world’s richest collections of paintings is a way of keeping the dialogue going and opening for new kinds of engagement.”
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said: “Museums are constantly reflecting on their history, their role and their relevance. At this most testing time for museums and their audiences, I am very much looking forward to having Ali Cherri – an artist who is eloquent and inspiring on the themes of memory and the layered nature of history and on the poetic beauty of the passage of time and the succession of eras – as the National Gallery’s Artist in Residence in 2021.”
Caroline Douglas, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, said: “Ali Cherri brings a welcome international dimension to the residency at the National Gallery, and a practice with a unique perspective through his interest in taxonomies and museum practice. The residency offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the collections at the gallery, as well as the chance for extended dialogue with the experts responsible for their care and interpretation. Ali Cherri’s ongoing enquiry into the way society values and preserves cultural artefacts will undoubtedly offer important contemporary insights into our great national collection.”
Francis Nielsen, Cultural & Creative Director of The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, said: “We are incredibly excited to be working alongside the National Gallery and Contemporary Arts Society to host Ali Cherri as an Artist in Residence for 2021. The residency allows us to reimagine our collections within the context of our time and discover narratives that attract and engage audiences in new ways, as well as greatly enriching our permanent collection.”
Ali Cherri has been selected as the National Gallery’s Artist in Residence for 2021, in partnership with the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry.
The National Gallery Artist in Residence is a collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society. The Contemporary Art Society’s contribution is generously supported by Anna Yang and Joseph Schull.