Interview with Chris Aldgate, Director of Gathering

The Private View for our annual Winter Auction will be held at contemporary London gallery, Gathering. We sat down with Chris Aldgate, the director of Gathering, to discuss his career in the art world, his favourite pieces in the auction, and the upcoming projects at the gallery.

RSVP for the Private View here

Bidding is open until 23 November via Dreweatts here

Could you provide a brief overview of your career in the art world? How did you arrive at your current position at Gathering?

Following a Fine Art Masters, Richard Wentworth suggested that I continue in academia and consider undertaking a PHD. I'd joined the Whitechapel Gallery exhibitions team around that time; I was particularly interested in exhibition making, and presumed working there would inform further study. There I remained, amongst incredible colleagues, producing and designing over 250 internal and external exhibitions and commissions, from Paul McCarthy - LaLa Land Parody Paradise, to Chris Marker - A Grin Without A Cat, to ten wonderful Max Mara Art Prize for Women installations.

As a part of a generation of colleagues that worked on the 2009 Whitechapel Gallery expansion, I was subsequently asked to contribute to many similar institutional developments.  It was with this experience in mind that I was approached to consider the Gathering project. As I began to understand the broader aims of the gallery, when the opportunity arose, I enthusiastically joined the team.

How does Gathering’s focus on exhibiting art that explores systemic social issues fit within the wider art world? Why is this principle important to you?

I wouldn’t necessarily characterise our intention as specifically focusing on artists that overtly speak about systemic social issues. My experience is that most artists reflect sympathetically on the current condition of their surroundings.  It’s true to say that our programme has touched on issues of gender, identity, care, and other very important live topics,

Gathering opened with the intention of supporting and working with artists whose practices might otherwise prove tricky to facilitate, it might be said, artists who are perhaps more suited to an institutional platform. Artists have an important and unique voice; our intention was to place the artist at the centre of our activity and be respectful of that voice in a commercial setting.

Which emerging artists are you most excited about in the AOAP Winter Auction?

I recently came across Paloma Proudfoot’s work at Goldsmiths CCA, in the wonderful exhibition Unruly Bodies (2023). My response was said to be "uncharacteristically effusive", so I’m particularly keen to follow Paloma’s progress. Also, Tasneem Elnayal and Eva Dixon’s work is striking. In general, I’m looking forward to exploring the cross section of artists that have contributed.

Which upcoming project at Gathering are you particularly looking forward to?

Pictures of Us, which opens on the 1st December. It’s been a great pleasure to be introduced to the guest curator, Lewis Dalton Gilbert. Lewis has brought together a wonderful group of artists that work with film and photography, not all of whom I was entirely familiar.  I think with prescience, this exhibition touches upon themes of intimacy, tenderness, and compassion.

Beyond Pictures of Us, we’ve been working on an especially challenging project, that has required significant research and endeavour. There have been moments throughout my career, when I’ve had the unique opportunity to take a deep dive into a practice, or an artwork, that has long been significant in my own development and understanding. Most recently, producing a partial recreation of Kurt Schwitters ‘Merzbau’. In the spring, the Gathering team will present something similar.

Photography Credit: Grey Hutton

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