CAPSULE 03 AND 04 Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Adele Röder at Haus der Kunst, Munich
With the Capsule exhibitions, Haus der Kunst provides young, international, emerging artists the opportunity to show new works in a museum setting. For this format – established in 2014 – each artist is given one exhibition space, a fact reflected in the format’s name, Capsule. This year, the “capsules” present the work of two London-based artists, Adele Röder (born in 1980) and Lynette Yiadom Boayke (born in 1977). Although each exhibition is treated as an independent entity, there are surprising conceptual similarities between the works of the artists, both of whom deal in different ways with questions of the representation of the body.
Capsule 03 presents new works by British-Ghanaian artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Her paintings were first exhibited in 2006 at the Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporaneo in Seville; numerous solo and group exhibitions followed, including appearances at the 55th Biennale di Venezia in 2013, the 2015 Sharjah Biennial and at London’s Serpentine Gallery, also in 2015. Yiadom-Boakye was awarded the Pinchuk Foundation Future Generation Prize in 2012, and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013.
Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings move within the European tradition of figurative painting and illustrate its full range of formats: from small, intimate closeups to large-scale works whose size and impact are reminiscent of history painting. With her expressive representations of the human figure, the artist examines the formal mechanisms of the medium of painting and reveals profound psychological dimensions in her works, which focus on fictional characters that exist beyond our world in a different time and in an unknown location. According to the artist, the figures “do not share our concerns or anxieties. They are somewhere else altogether.” Nevertheless, they are in no way foreign or strange but, are rather almost familiar. They are imaginary and constructed out of set pieces of the artist’s personal imagery, from her perceptions and stored templates. The spatial contexts in which the characters exist appear to be reduced to a few attributes. The representations thus present no narratives, but leave the viewer the space to project his or her own ideas on or into the images.
Yiadom-Boakye’s figures evolve in the painting process and are developed from the paint itself. Her paintings’ palette is often dark and exhibits a certain preference for earthy tones, from whose subdued lighting strong color accents emerge. Her protagonists are exclusively black, and thereby challenge the accepted norm of Western European figurative painting. “People ask me, ‘Why do you not paint all the figures green?” – ‘Because I want them to look real; this is not a Benetton advert.’ Of course it’s political. Everything is political.”
O L Y M P I A, or: Message from the Dark Room
The focus of Röder’s Capsule 04 exhibition is the body as a nonverbal means of expression. The starting point of the work presented here is the exploration of postures as a basic archaic form – or even alphabet – of human exchange, because, according to Röder, “Certain attitudes and positions are forms in a rudimentary language with which cultural knowledge is transmitted over centuries.” The body serves here as the interface between the subject and the surrounding environment.
For her presentation, Röder developed an extensive series of line drawings that depict postures and details of the body. These are based on a limited series of forms, consisting of circles, circle segments and L-forms, which were borrowed from her COMCORRÖDER project (since 2010). The drawings can be regarded as an index of different forms of expression and of various life ages – ranging from infant to skeleton. Ranging from animated to amusingly odd in character, the figures are presented as slide projections; selected basic forms are laid out using neon tubes arranged on a table or mounted to the wall.
Neon tubes have appeared in Röder’s work since 2010 in a variety of contexts. They have functioned as freestanding, graphic, or spatial structures or served to light a pop-up store created by the artist, where personalized garments could be tailored using sketches from the COMCORRÖDER series. It was already evident here that Röder understands her work as a continuous, open process of transformation, in which continually-developing elements can become signifiers in ever new contexts. Rather than being used to illuminate something, the neon tubes have now become autonomous “luminous bodies”.
The artistic medium light lends the room – illuminated only by the artist’s works – an ethereal quality, which is underscored by the attraction that the luminous body-like forms exert. The darkness evokes a feeling of entering into a kind of grotto or cave; a space that opens a view into the past. At the same time, Röder understands this setting as visionary: The forms are suggestions, and become models that permit one to contemplate both present and future forms of social exchange. Thus, the works in O L Y M P I A, or: Message from the Dark Room possess fundamental Platonic qualities. They are simultaneously representational and ideational.
Haus der Kunst – Prinzregentenstr. 180538 Munich
Opening Thursday 29 October at 7pm
Capsule 03: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
30 October, 2015 – 28 March 28, 2016
Capsule 04: Adele Röder
30 October, 2015 – 14 February, 2016