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Ali Cherri is the National Gallery’s 2021 Artist in Residence

Issued January 2021

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, it was announced today.

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.

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.

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.

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Ali Cherri © Ali Cherri 

About the National Gallery’s Modern and Contemporary Programme

For nearly two centuries, the National Gallery’s Collection has provided inspiration to contemporary artists. The National Gallery’s new Modern and Contemporary Programme continues this tradition through exhibitions, displays, commissions, and residencies. 2019 saw the unveiling of Bridget Riley’s monumental wall painting Messengers in the Gallery’s Annenberg Court, as well as the exhibitions Rachel Maclean: The Lion and The Unicorn (29 November 2018 – 3 February 2019) and Sea Star: Sean Scully at the National Gallery (13 April – 11 August 2019.) The first Artist in Residence of the programme was Rosalind Nashashibi, announced in 2019, and whose display Rosalind Nashashibi: An Overflow of Passion and Sentiment opened at the Gallery on 2 December 2020. The first Contemporary Fellowship, awarded to Nalini Malani, and supported by Art Fund, was announced in June 2020.


About Ali Cherri

Ali Cherri (b.1976) is a visual artist based in Beirut and Paris. His recent exhibitions include 'Phantom Limb' at Jameel Arts Center Dubai, 'An Opera For Animals' at Parasite, Hong Kong, 'But a Storm is Blowing from Paradise' at Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan and Guggenheim New York, 'Somniculus' at Jeu de Paume, Paris and CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, and 'Statues Also Die' at Museo Egizio, Milan.

His work has been exhibited in several international exhibitions, among them Manifesta 13, Marseille (2020); Jameel Arts Center, Dubai (2019); Parasite, Hong Kong (2019); Centre Pompidou – Paris (2017); Lyon Biennial (Sept. 2017); MAXXI, Rome (Nov. 2017); Aichi Triennial, Japan (2016); Guggenheim New York (2016); Sharjah Art Space (2016); MACBA, Spain (2015); Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, Poland (2015); and Gwangju Museum of Art, South Korea (2014).

Cherri is a recipient of the Harvard University’s Robert E. Fulton Fellowship (2016) and the Rockefeller Foundation Award (2017) and was shortlisted for the The Abraaj Group Art Prize (2018.) His films have been shown in International Film Festivals including New Directors/New Films MoMA NY; Cinéma du Réel, Centre Pompidou, Paris; CPH:DOX (winner of NewVision Award 2015), Copenhagen; Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai (winner Best Director, 2013); VideoBrasil, São Paulo (Southern Panorama Award, 2015); Toronto International Film Festival & San Francisco International Film Festival. 

About the National Gallery Artist in Residence

Over the course of one year, the National Gallery Artist in Residence has access to the unique National Gallery’s on-site Artist’s Studio, the Gallery’s staff and its archives and research resources. The residency includes a publication and the display of work at the National Gallery, which travels to the UK Partner Museum. A work from the residency will then be acquired for the partner museum by the Contemporary Art Society.

The residency replaces the previous Associate Artist scheme. The Artist in Residence is selected by a jury. The Contemporary Art Society’s contribution is generously supported by Anna Yang and Joseph Schull.

The first Artist in Residence was Rosalind Nashashibi, announced in 2019, and whose display 'Rosalind Nashashibi: An Overflow of Passion and Sentiment' opened at the Gallery on 2 December 2020.

About the Contemporary Art Society

The Contemporary Art Society champions the collecting of outstanding contemporary art and craft in the UK. Since 1910 the charity has donated thousands of works by living artists to museums, from Picasso, Bacon, Hepworth and Moore in their day, through to the influential artists of our times. Sitting at the heart of cultural life in the UK, the Contemporary Art Society brokers philanthropic support for the benefit of museums and their audiences across the entire country. Their work ensures that the story of art continues to be told now and for future generations.

About the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum is an award-winning gallery and museum situated in the cultural heart of Coventry. The Herbert has a large and wide-ranging collection including social history, archaeology, natural history and art. There are around 6,000 works in the Herbert's visual arts collection, the earliest of which is an Elizabethan portrait attributed to Lucas de Heere. British life and landscape feature in canvases by LS Lowry, Stanley Spencer, David Bomberg, Paul Nash and George Shaw. The Gallery collects new and recent art in a variety of media and styles, currently developing a collection of art on the themes of conflict, peace and reconciliation. Temporary exhibition spaces have hosted collections from museums nationally and internationally. Several of the touring exhibition galleries are currently closed for redevelopment in preparation for Coventry UK City of Culture, enabling the gallery to display more works and major exhibitions. Further info:

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