|Jan 15 – Mar 03, 2016
acb Gallery is delighted to host the first solo exhibition in Hungary of Kendell Geers, a world-renowned artist of South African origin. Geers' exceptionally provocative art, which reacts to the issues of contemporary art and society with strong critical reflections, takes up a significant position in the international art scene. Nevertheless, his name is not unfamiliar in Hungary: the artist participated in the group show By Any Means Necessary (2013, acb Gallery) named after one of his works and later presented his performance Ritual Resist in the frame of OFF-Biennále Budapest (2015). Kendell Geers' new exhibition entitled SeaSonSinHell reflects on the most recent events in Europe ranging from the Greek economic and the refugee crises to the terror attacks in Paris and the lockdown of Brussels.
Inspired by Arthur Rimbaud’s extended poem in prose originally entitled A Season in Hell (Une Saison en Enfer, 1873), Kendell Geers clearly refers, with the title of the exhibition, to the bleakness of present perspectives, especially climatic ones. Through the intentional spelling difference that the plural of Seasons means, he also brings together politics and nature and raises awareness for the long-lasting negative effects of global directions on the seasons.
The exhibition features new works related to different series. Hand-modeled pieces cast in bronze from the Flesh of the Spirit series are an embodied vision of an above all African artist trapped between the color of his skin and his identity mediated by European perception. The masks are based on tribal artifacts that he transforms into contemporary „art-i-fact”.
The works from the Age of Iron series – eponym of South African Nobel Prize winner J. M. Coetzee’s novel from 1990 – are drawings made with rust, delicate at first glance, but leaving the viewer uneasy when a closer look reveals that the white, lacy, ornamental motive evoking the art of Medieval stained glass windows – is in fact the negative trace left by a complex pattern of intertwined razor wires. Kendell Geers has been working with razor mesh and razor wire since the 1990's as the material was invented in South Africa and the global patent is still owned by a South African company. In his practice, this material expresses the contradiction of his whiteness in relation to his Africanness, the imprisonment of perception, and the incarceration of identity.
“’I have never belonged to this people;
I have never been a Christian; I am of the race that sang
under torture; laws I have never understood; I have
no moral sense, I am a brute: you are making a
Yes, my eyes are closed to your light. I am a beast […]”
Echoed by the self-portrait photo entitled SacredScarredScarred which presents the artist as a king crowned with razor wire – alluding to a multitude of European spiritual and historical references – the Age of Iron series is, in the present context, unmistakably to be linked with the mushrooming of barbed wire fences at the eastern borders of the European Union, namely Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Bulgaria, the historical traditions of wall-building in Europe, from the defence of the Christian fortress since ancient Roman times to the Iron Curtain dividing Western powers and the Soviet bloc.
Kendell Geers (b. May 1968) is a South-African artist living in Brussels.
Operating with the mediums of photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, and performance, Kendell Geers employs a wide range of references – from art history to pornography, iconography to kitsch, or complex political references to racial or religious stereotypes – to create critical, humorous and confrontational works that disrupt social norms and codes.
He participated in documenta 11, Kassel (2002), the 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010), and the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007) amongst others.
His most important solo exhibitions include States of Emergency, Vienna Secession, Vienna (1999), Sympathy for the Devil, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2002), Irrespektiv, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent (2007) and MOCA, Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon (2008), Kendell Geers 1988-2013, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2013).
The exhibition is supported by the NKA and the cultural department of the Ministry of the Flemish Community in Belgium.