Wexner Center Presents South African Artist Robin Rhode in First Substantial U.S. Museum Survey

Tue, Mar 17, 2009

Columbus, OH—Catch Air: Robin Rhode, organized by the Wexner Center and on view there April 2–July 26, 2009, will be the South African artist’s first substantial solo exhibition in the United States. The show will chart his development with about 20 key works from 1998 to the present. Rhode has developed a unique process that conflates two- and three-dimensional space with a combination of drawing, performance, photography, and film.

Comprised of three components, the exhibition will feature, in the main gallery space, a survey of his multi-panel photographic storyboards, animations,
and films, as well as the U.S. premiere of the sculptural work Impis (2008), a lineup of riot police helmets, cast in glass with mirrored visors that confront the viewer at eye level. The second component will be a site-specific installation in the Wexner Center’s lower lobby that will integrate actual objects with a life-sized drawing. The third and final component, visible only from outside, will be a projection of one of Rhode’s performances onto a window adjacent to the entrance of the Wexner Center, literally bringing his work to the street.

In the form of deceptively playful narrative vignettes, Rhode considers a range of interrelated topics such as the history of segregation and racial discrimination in apartheid South Africa, urban poverty, and violence, as well as contemporary popular culture and media stereotypes. At the same time, he addresses modernist concerns with abstraction and illusionism, which have become more pronounced in recent years. Many of his vignettes visualize desire, which is made palpable by the inaccessibility of the drawn object (e.g., a bicycle, a car, or athletic prowess). When the drawing disintegrates into abstract form, or accumulates through repetition into enormous environments, the results can be startling.

Catharina Manchanda, senior curator at the Wexner Center who is organizing this exhibition, says, “Rhode’s work complicates established assumptions about the art object and the artist as a subject. After seeing his work, you might not look at a Picasso, Magritte, or Duchamp in quite the same way as before. At the same time, you might read postcolonial theory somewhat differently.” 

Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin notes, “Robin Rhode has emerged in recent years as a compelling and wholly original talent who manages to meld the tropes of cinematic storyboarding and animation, street performance, and photography with a remarkably fluid drawing talent, informed by his personal experience of South Africa pre- and post-apartheid. We are honored to present his first solo exhibition at a U.S. museum.”

An illustrated catalogue will accompany this show, featuring essays by Catharina Manchanda and Claire Tancons, and an interview with Rhode.

Born in South Africa in 1976, Rhode currently lives and works in Berlin. In addition to the solo exhibition at the Wexner Center, he is working on a stage set for a performance by pianist Leif Ove Andsnes for “Pictures Reframed” which will debut at the Lincoln Center in New York as part of their “New Visions” series in November 2009.

Thursday, April 2 | 4:30 pm
Wexner Center Film/Video Theater – Free

Robin Rhode will discuss his work with Hamza Walker, director of education and associate curator at the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago; Claire Tancons, an independent curator who has been following Rhode’s work closely since 2003 (and an essayist for the Rhode catalogue); and the Wexner Center’s Catharina Manchanda, curator of the exhibition.


This exhibition was organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Major support is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Accommodations are provided by The Blackwell Inn.

All exhibitions and related events also receive support from Corporate Annual Fund of the Wexner Center Foundation and Wexner Center members, as well as The Columbus Foundation, Nationwide Foundation, and the Ohio Arts Council.


Catch Air: Robin Rhode is on view April 2–July 26, 2009 at the Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St. (at 15th Ave.) on the campus of The Ohio State University. Also on view during that time are William Forsythe: Transfigurations and COOP HIMMELB(L)AU: Beyond the Blue. Gallery hours are Tuesday–Wednesday and Sunday 11 am–6 pm; Thursday–Saturday 11 am–8 pm; closed Mondays. Walk-in Tours are held Thursdays at 5 and Saturdays at 1 (starting April 4). The opening party will be held Wednesday, April 1 from 5 to 8 pm (admission fee applies). Admission to the galleries is $5; free for Wexner Center members, college students, and visitors 18 and under; free Thursdays from 4 to 8 pm and the first Sunday of the month. More info: wexarts.org or 614 292-3535.


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