Artists: Adele Röder, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Venue: Haus der Kunst, Munich
Date: October 30, 2015 – February 14, 2016
Note: A publication accompanying the exhibition can be found here.
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Haus der Kunst, Munich and Adele Roder. Photos by Maximillian Geuter and Uli Holz.
For the second time, Haus der Kunst gives young, international emerging artists the opportunity to present new works in the Capsule exhibition space. This year, two London-based artists, Adele Röder (DE *1980) and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (UK *1977), have been invited to participate.
The Capsule exhibition format provides each artist with an autonomous exhibition space. This presentation, however, demonstrates a contextual cross-reference between the works, as both artists deal with the representation of the body.
The artist painted a new series of paintings especially for the exhibition; all depict figures in an environment that cannot be specifically located in either time or place. Although her subjects seem to be realistic, 20th/21th century figures, Yiadom- Boakye’s paintings do not depict real people. Lynette Yiadom- Boakye does not understand her figures as traditional portraits, in that their features do not simulate particular characters, moods or situations. The artist is more interested in the representation of the human, of what it is to be human, than in the individual itself. There are no indications of her subjects belonging to a particular social class. Fashion accessories like shoes, and contextual details like furniture or landscape have a generic quality.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye depicts her figures in passing movement, recalling contemporary urban environments where people are constantly on the move or in a hurry. At the same time we often see them in dance-like postures. Everything situational remains vague and fleeting.
The artist refrains from direct depictions of extreme emotions and sexuality, and handles traditional feminine beauty with similar delicacy. Her perspective is multifocal: While a female beholder may look sensually at both the female and male figures, as a male beholder may look at the male figures, Yiadom-Boakye is careful not to represent her female figures in a posture which would permit a traditional male voyeuristic gaze. She avoids poses that have precursors in art history, such as the reclining female.
Artists who have influenced Lynette Yiadom-Boakye include Chris Ofili and Isaac Julien, as well as historic precursors like Edouard Manet and John Singer Sargent. She herself is of British- Ghanaian descent. In response to the comment that all her painted figures are “black”, Yiadom-Boakye said that they are “tinted black” – precisely because the artist sees the world through her own eyes: “People are tempted to politicize the fact that I paint black figures, and the complexity of this is an essential part of the work. But my starting point is always the language of painting itself and how that relates to the subject matter.”
The dark figures, luminous shadows, the meeting of colors, and her backgrounds create a spectrum in which accents of light are pronounced. Each painting is usually executed within one day, two at most. Yiadom-Boakye experiments with fast-drying paints. For the artist, the act of painting is an intense, temporally-limited exercise. This reflects her reservations about the notion of a ‘masterpiece’, and the openness of her pictorial understanding, which is characteristic of a painter of her generation.
Adele Röder understands her work as migratory or, as she says, “homeless”. “The idea of homelessness means that I give an idea space to grow without (initially) over-thinking materiality.” Accordingly, Röder selects very varied materials for her works and places individual elements of her works in ever-new contexts. The human body is the instrument with which she explores the world.
Adele Röder presents a new group of works entitled “O L Y M P I A, or: Message from the Darkroom” (2015) in Haus der Kunst. The work is centered on the expressive language of the body. With a selection of circles, circle segments and L-shapes based on forms in her COMCORRÖDER project (since 2010), Adele Röder draws variations and details of postures that can be read as an index of various expressions and situations. Skeleton and infant constitute the “physical brackets” that define human existence. The drawings materialize in two different ways: as a looped slide projection and florescent tubes.
For many years Adele Röder has collected photographs of prehistoric tombs. The postures of the discovered skeletons and x- rayed mummies are still comprehensible and legible: “Certain attitudes and positions are part of a rudimentary language through which cultural knowledge is transferred over millennia.” (Adele Röder)
The series “O L Y M P I A” presents postures as an archaic basic form, an alphabet of interpersonal exchanges. In the slide projection and the florescent tubes, abstracted images of the body connect with the immateriality and energy of light. Thus, the work captures both the transience of our material ‘casing’ and the energy of interpersonal exchanges.
With her index of human postures, Adele Röder combines social and intuitive personal “knowledge”. Her study of behavior is not only a representation of the past and present, but also the artist’s personal vision of things to come. It points to very specific questions concerning, for example, the relationship of work to everyday life and rest, which the artist depicts as poses of deep relaxation and sleep.