STEVENSON is pleased to present Paries Pictus, Robin Rhode's first solo exhibition in South Africa in over a decade
In 2000 Rhode was granted a Fresh residency at the South African National Gallery, and gave a performance at the Market Galleries during a solo show in Johannesburg. Since then, based in Berlin, he has become the most high-profile South African artist of his generation. He was part of the seminal Walker Art Center exhibition When Latitudes Become Forms in 2004, and in 2005 he was the youngest artist in the Venice Biennale. His global career has included solo exhibitions at Haus der Kunst in Munich; the Hayward Gallery, London; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California.
Rhode creates narratives that are brought to life through stop-motion animation, using everyday materials such as soap, charcoal, chalk and paint. In addition to the street art and performance aspects of his work, there is always a formalist foundation inspired by his interest in abstraction in general and Russian constructivism in particular.
In Paries Pictus, Rhode uses the walls of the gallery for a site-specific intervention of drawings. The artist has partnered with the Lalela Project, a Cape Town-based organisation that specialises in arts education for children from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. A group of learners from Lalela were invited to use oversized crayons to colour in geometric vinyl graphics applied directly to the walls by Rhode. This interactive component of Paries Pictus was first enacted at the Castello di Rivoli in Turin, Italy, in 2011, and in New York at Lehmann Maupin gallery this January.
Alongside the children's intervention, Rhode shows photo series that were selected based on their connection to South Africa. In Carry-on, created in Johannesburg earlier this year, the connection is perhaps the most apparent: the doppelganger carries a handbag made up of the outline of South Africa. In Vultures the central motif is an Okapi, the knife of choice for local gansters, and Twilight is based on a line from a poem by Don Mattera.
A Day in May, a new video animation which will be shown at the forthcoming Moscow Biennale, speaks of the tension between revolution and domesticity: marching with a black flag, the doppelganger keeps being held back by washing pegs. The exhibition coincides with international Labour Day on 1 May, from which the video takes its title.
Rhode was born in 1976 in Cape Town and raised in Johannesburg. He has been based in Berlin since 2002, but regularly travels to Johannesburg to make work. Major museum solo exhibitions have taken place at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California (2010); the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2009); the Hayward Gallery, London (2008); and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2007). Notable group exhibitions include the 18th Sydney Biennale, All Our Relations (2012); Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011); The Dissolve, 8th Site Santa Fe Biennale, New Mexico (2010); Prospect.1 New Orleans, 1st New Orleans Biennial (2008); New Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2005); the 51st Venice Biennale (2005); and How Latitudes Become Forms, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, and other venues (2003-5). Rhode's work can be found in numerous public collections, including the Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; the Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum and Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
The exhibition opens on Thursday 11 April, from 6 to 8pm.
Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 1pm.