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Critters to take over Cork Street for London Gallery Weekend

Swiss artist Gina Fischli is making 3m-high banners

Gina Fischli, detail from Ravenous and Predatory (2021)

A new public art commission in Mayfair will introduce a menagerie of furry and feathered fauna next month to the historic London gallery hub. To be unveiled on 4 June, the first day of London Gallery Weekend, five sets of 3m-high banners depicting photos of woodland animals such as foxes and squirrels will tower over visitors to Cork Street, which hosts prominent galleries including Goodman, Saatchi Yates as well as Frieze's first exhibition space.

These large-scale 'pawtraits' have been made by the Swiss-born artist Gina Fischli, who used internet screengrabs as the basis for the works. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Arts, which is situated a stone's throw away from Cork Street, Fischli says she is fascinated by "the tension of Mayfair, which visualises so much of what London as a city is right now but also a fantasy landscape of what it once was. It is an intriguingly beautiful woman that has undergone over 30 facelifts and stands apart from any timeline". Fischli's banners will stay up for six months until November.

As with much of Fischli's previous work—such as the enormous handbag sculpture she showed at Soft Opening's booth at Paris Internationale fair in 2019—saccharine elements are underscored by a sense of menace. Indeed, the aerial format of Fischli's Cork Street commission may well have viewers questioning whether these are cute critters or vicious predators.

"This marks a historic moment for Cork Street as it will be the first-time banners have been hung across the street. It is more significant than ever that we see art not just in a gallery context but that it spills into the street and is viewable to all,” says Julian Stocks, the property director of The Pollen Estate, Cork Street Galleries' primary owner and developer.

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