Lehmann Maupin Gallery Presents Robin Rhode's First New York Exhibition
Lehmann Maupin Gallery is pleased to present Robin Rhode's first exhibition in New York in more than five years. It is also Rhode's debut solo show at Lehmann Maupin since joining the gallery earlier this year. The artist has taken over both New York galleries to present a two-part exhibition featuring a new series of street-based photographs and an educational wall drawing intervention with Time In, a local outreach program specializing in arts education for underprivileged school children. An artist book entitled Robin Rhode: Paries Pictus Activity Book accompanies the exhibitions. The artist will be present for opening receptions at both galleries on Thursday, 10 January from 6 to 9 PM.
Robin Rhode, the South African-born, Berlin-based multidisciplinary artist, engages a variety of visual languages such as photography, performance, drawing and sculpture to create arrestingly beautiful narratives that are brought to life using quotidian materials such as soap, charcoal, chalk and paint. Coming of age in a newly post-apartheid South Africa, Rhode was exposed to new forms of creative expression motivated by the spirit of the individual rather than dictated by a political or social agenda. The growing influence of hip-hop, film, and popular sports on youth culture as well as the community's reliance on storytelling in the form of colorful murals encouraged the development of Rhode's hybrid street-based aesthetic. His strategic interventions transform urban landscapes into imaginary worlds, compressing space and time, as two-dimensional renderings become the subject of three-dimensional interactions by a sole protagonist, usually played by the artist or by an actor inhabiting the role of artist. Melding individual expressionism with broader socio-economic concerns, Rhode's work reveals a mastery of illusion, a rich range of historical and contemporary references, and an innate skill for blending high and low art forms.
The exhibition at 540 West 26th Street, "Take your Mind Off the Street," is dedicated to Rhode's newest series of photographs. Each work consists of multiple images capturing a singular action that unfolds sequentially, in most cases, from left to right, similar to the action portrayed in a zoetrope. In Bird on Wires, for instance, Rhode's character traces the flight pattern of a bird as it makes its way from one perch to the next along a barbed wire fence. The action recalls early movement experiments carried out by the French scientist, physiologist and chronophotographer, Ètienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904), in the 1880s. The triptych Broken Glass depicts a crowbar-wielding man shattering a larger-than-life wine glass; it's red liquid spilling forth, staining the stark white wall. This act of violence is amplified through scale and the absurdity of the subject matter, and in the context of Johannesburg, the artist's hometown, symbolic of the violence and social inequality that continues to plague the city to this day.