Shaqúelle Whyte: Yute, you’re gonna be fine

26 Apr-25 May 2024
PV 25 Apr 2024, 6-8pm

Pippy Houldsworth Gallery
London W1B 4BT


Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is pleased to present Shaqúelle Whyte’s first solo exhibition, Yute, you’re gonna be fine.

In his paintings, Whyte presents imagined spaces imbued with a sense of ambiguity that interrogate the human condition, all the while exploring the material qualities of the medium. Loosely rendered, energetic brushwork and an expansive approach to composition are hallmarks of the artist’s practice. This feeling of enigma is palpable in Kevin, you’re next, a diptych presenting two visual perspectives on a street fight. Interpreting themes of psychological turbulence through the image of a brawling crowd, Whyte’s generative interpretation of viciousness explores the relationship between play and conflict. Within his symbolic articulation of interiority, a sense of theatre pervades Whyte’s work; he directs his subjects as though they are performers on a stage.

Giving form to thought through paint, Whyte generates a sense of introspection through his characters’ often averted or guarded faces. At once mysterious and familiar, his paintings evoke the surreal, finding majesty in mundanity, and ultimately leaving his world open to the viewer’s own interpretation. Despite excluding himself from the work representationally, the stories Whyte crafts reflect his everyday life and innermost thoughts. The figures in his paintings act as conduits for his subconscious. In We don’t bite, a man crouches down, the ground 

around him swarming with rats, while rabbits crowd the open doorway of Rabbit heart. Animals manifest throughout Whyte’s practice and have much in common with folkloric ‘familiars’, which in the medieval period were thought to be supernatural entities or spiritual guardians that assumed animal form. In Whyte’s work these creatures – neither malevolent nor benevolent – act as a point of entry for the viewer into the artist’s interior world. 

Whyte’s deployment of chiaroscuro pays tribute to Renaissance painting and elevates his depiction of the prosaic to dramatic heights. In It’s inferred a woman cast in shadow glances up from the book in her hand, gazing directly at the viewer, while a young man to her right is bathed in golden light, absorbed in his own reading. Whyte looks to the sixteenth century for inspiration, with Tintoretto a particular touchstone for the artist in his rendering of non-linear time. As in many of Tintoretto’s greatest works, Whyte’s narratives resist chronology, casting sequence aside in favour of complex planar spaces that obscure temporal categorisation. In the symphonic FOREFATHER, multiple plot lines weave in and out of one another as Whyte crafts a contemporary history painting that embodies the multivalence of his world.

Shaqúelle Whyte (b. 2000, Wolverhampton) lives and works in London. He received a BA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art and an MA from the Royal College of Art. Recent exhibitions include Present Tense, Hauser & Wirth, Somerset (2024); Buffer, Guts Gallery, London (2022); Seasons in the City, curated by Artuner, Palazzo Capris, Turin (2022); and Showstopper, Saatchi Gallery, London (2022). Recent awards and residencies include the Herbert Seaborne Prize; the Black Sponsorship Scheme with Carl Kostyál Gallery; a residency at The Fores Project, London (2022); and the Denise Israel Scholarship, Rome Art Program (2021). 


Shaqúelle Whyte: Yute, you’re gonna be fine press release