Pope.L portrait. Photo: Peyton Fulford, courtesy of the artist.

The South London Gallery is deeply saddened by the recent death of the brilliant artist and educator, Pope.L (1955–2023).

With roots in philosophy and theatre, Pope.L’s career since the 1970s explored society, politics and contemporary culture. His practice spanned writing, painting, performance, installation, sculpture and video, revealing contradictory and provocative themes in language, gender, race, economics and community. Often using dark or absurd humour and carrying out arduous, physical performances, Pope.L found his inspiration in other people.

“I believe art re-ritualizes the everyday to reveal something fresh about our lives. This revelation is a vitality and it is a power to change the world.” – Pope.L

Pope.L’s solo show, Hospital, continues at the SLG until 11 February 2024. It explores ideas of memory, decay, forgetfulness, convalescence and mourning. It is a poignant opportunity to reflect on the work of a truly important and influential artist.

Margot Heller, Director of the South London Gallery says: “Working with Pope.L on his South London Gallery exhibition was an absolute honour and privilege. Everyone at the gallery is devastated that he has gone, and we are deeply moved to be hosting what has tragically turned out to be his last exhibition. It wrestles with issues of social, economic and racial inequality, collapse and decay, life and death, shot through with Pope.L’s inimitably absurdist humour. Pope.L was a brilliant artist, wonderful human being, true great and a hero. The world is a much lesser place without him.”



Pope.L (also known as William Pope.L; 1955 – 2023) is an artist best known for his provocative performances and public installations. While centring on themes such as gender and race, his works explore the systems, conflicts, and beliefs inherent to our society and culture. Pope.L studied at Pratt Institute and Montclair State College, where he received a BA in 1978. He also participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney and received an MFA in 1981 from Rutgers University. His works have been exhibited at many significant institutions, including the Anthology Film Archives, Franklin Furnace, Artist Space, Museum of Modern Art, New Museum, Performa, The Sculpture Center, the 2002 and 2017 Whitney Biennials, the Carpenter Center in Boston and the Geffen at MOCA Los Angeles.

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