Bedwyr Williams – The Gulch

Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams sends visitors on a quest through the 90-metre long Curve gallery of the Barbican Centre for his first solo show in a public space in London. The gallery is transformed into a series of theatrical installations conceived to transport and disorient the viewer.

Exhibition The Gulch
Artist(s) Bedwyr Williams
Venue The Curve, Barbican Centre

Taking the vertiginous gorgelike form of the Curve as his starting point and title, Williams plays on the winding, linear nature of the space, creating a series of physical and metaphorical twists and turns. Subverting any expectation of conventional narrative, his curious and often subversive internal dialogue plays out in this fantastical installation. Gallery visitors descend into the space, navigating from one seemingly disparate scene to the next on a journey that summons surreal visions and imagined plots. From a pair of singing running shoes to a depressed hypnotist and a talking goat, visitors are confronted by various protagonists and in turn find themselves invited to stage their own performances.

Bedwyr Williams’s practice encompasses a diverse range of mediums from performance to sculpture to painting to video, often resulting in immersive installations. He draws on the banalities and idiosyncrasies of his own life and the world around him. Williams’s tales range from the absurd and extraordinary to the mind-numbingly ordinary; visitors are invited to share his curiosity, awkwardness, anger, embarrassment, delight and confusion in the world as we are drawn into the compelling scenarios he conjures. His wry humour often questions cultural snobbery and elevates minute observations to a monumental scale.

Bedwyr Williams was born in St. Asaph, Wales, and lives and works in Caernarfon, Wales. He studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, and Ateliers Arnhem, The Netherlands. He is a winner of the Paul Hamlyn Award, represented Wales at the Venice Biennale 2013 and was recently selected for the shortlists for both the prestigious Jarman Award and the Artes Mundi 7 Prize.

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Tique | publication on contemporary art #3: Six Questions