The Whitechapel Gallery is displaying works from the private collection of Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo over the course of a year. This is an excellent idea that will allow visitors to experience art they ordinarily wouldn't have access to. The first collection is by Maurizio Cattelan — the Italian artist is renowned for usingf humour to bring to light much deeper and political issues.
Cattelan's most famous piece is on display here. It features a taxidermied squirrel slumped over a kitchen table with a gun at its feet — a putative suicide. With no glass case separating the viewer from this scene it feels more engaging and asks the question of what drove this animal to such an end. The personal element is that the kitchen resembles the one in the artist's family home — is this a reflection of a childhood trauma?
Cattelan's mischievous streak is also evident in converting the logo of terrorist organisation Brigate Rosse into a trivial neon sign, which would appear more at home in a cheap bar or a shop window Christmas display.
He also draws attention to racism in Italian football with an elongated table football game with white players on one side and North African migrants on the other. However, the work suggests hope for the future, as despite the segregation both sides are enjoying the game.
Cattelan is an artist who complements his heavily politicised themes with a veil of cheeky humour. Despite this being a small exhibition, there are many choice works on display that merit a visit.
Collection Sandretto Re Rebaudengo: Maurizio Cattelan is on display in Gallery 7, Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX until 2 December. Admission is free.
While at the Whitechapel Gallery, make sure you visit and look down Giuseppe Penone's commission of an ever narrowing tree branch.