Venice Biennale Star Sonia Boyce Has Joined the Ranks at Hauser and Wirth, After Departing Simon Lee Gallery in June


The Swiss mega-gallery Hauser and Wirth has announced today that it will represent the British artist Sonia Boyce, in collaboration with Apalazzo Gallery in Brescia, Italy. The news comes three months after Boyce left Simon Lee Gallery in London after just two years, shortly before the gallery went into court-ordered administration.

The 61-year-old artist rose to prominence in the U.K. in the 1980s and 1990s for her conceptual, interdisciplinary practice. She made international headlines last year when she won the Golden Lion award for Best National Participation for her exhibition representing Britain at the 59th Venice Biennale. The show, “Feeling Her Way,” a video work made in collaboration with five Black female musicians, is on international tour and currently on view at Leeds Art Gallery.

Boyce’s first solo exhibition with Hauser and Wirth is slated for 2025, although the gallery has yet to share which of its locations will be the venue for it.

Gallery president Manuela Wirth called Boyce’s decision to join the gallery an “honor,” in a press release announcing the news. “A remarkable pioneer, Sonia’s highly original practice combines not only conceptual rigor and joyful creativity, but also generosity to the audience who become active participants, along with her fellow collaborators,” Wirth said. “In this way, Sonia has created a vocabulary wholly her own—consistently finding new approaches to making art that embrace experimentation with humanity and social practice at its core.”

Boyce declined to give her reasons for leaving Simon Lee Gallery, but her decision came amid financial difficulties for the gallery. Rumors of an impending financial crisis first began to surface last year, and by the time Boyce’s departure was announced in early June, Simon Lee Gallery had already received a Companies House notice to be dissolved over a tax dispute. It had its first insolvency hearing in April but later claimed to the that the matter had been resolved. On July 11, it went into joint administration with the business advisory firm BDO LPP, just one day before it was due to have its second insolvency hearing.

Several sources told Artnet News that some of the gallery’s artists had not been paid for works that had been sold and weren’t sure when these payments would be made. The American artist A’driane Nieves also published a blog detailing her battle to be paid for some works sold by the gallery at Art Basel and Frieze London last year.

It is not yet clear whether Simon Lee Gallery plans to close permanently, but it has not promoted any new exhibitions since a solo presentation of works by Olivier Debré closed on August 4.

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