Solve et Coagula - Galerie Yvon Lambert
“Solve et Coagula”
"In the spring of 1912 Marcel Duchamp left Paris for Munich in a rite of passage that would ultimately lead him to giving up on painting a few years later. It is not exactly clear what he did, but he explained that he visited the Alte Pinokathek almost daily, fascinated by the elders. A century later in the spring of 2012, I found myself wondering around the Alte Pinokathek trying to shake off the paralysing effects of a depression I had been cast into by the injustices of an art system that cares little for its artists and even less for their vision or integrity.
I gazed upon Durer as I got lost in Cranach and traced the shadows of Leonardo upon the mysteries of Ingres, searching for that line which Duchamp threw down between himself and his own mentors. When the colours finally revealed themselves and the darkness began shedding wings of light, I understood that art can only be created and not produced. Blake offered me his Double Vision with which to see the secret worlds that Duchamp was so afraid to acknowledge outside of his circle. I understood that after a century of overrated silence, the time had come to lay the found object to rest and permit history its repeat, to once again paint with neither irony nor in parody.
For almost three decades I had nurtured a language and approach to art based upon the contradictions of my ethnicity as a White African. From Africa, the continent of my birth and Country of my Skull, I have learned the experiential value of art, the importance of rooting my work in the fresh grounds of lived experience. I learned to create art out of that which I am, from the perspective of a radical subjectivity that does not ask permission to speak my truth. The animists taught me the value of place and how to communicate with the spirit of objects. In time the African spirits demanded that I seek out my own ancestors and so I found my way to Europe and began making art between two worlds.
I was born within the illegitimate zone of Apartheid, the son of a crime against humanity, a run-away child protesting. From this illegitimacy, I soon found myself illegal, on trial for treason and so I had to start again and gave birth to my self in May 1968, the bastard child of revolution, the Frankenstein of European colonialism.
From the battlefields of the AngloBoer war to the flashpoints of the Anti-Apartheid Resistance Movement, I dragged my cultural and political heritage into the white cube gallery, marking its frontiers with Razormesh. This uniquely South African patented material is as alien in the art gallery as I find myself to be, too African to be European but too European to be African. I invoked the “Interzone” of Burroughs through the “Thousand Plateaus” of Deleuze and Guattari, tracing the lines of my flight from the streets, through the battlefields and on into the horizons of my transformation.
My subjectivity of perception and perceptions of subjectivity flowed through the borders of prejudice and through my expectations of an art system, giving me the strength to interrogate my own history and question my identity differently than ever before.
With the broken arm of my discontent ripped from my noble intentions by the blind mice of market and media, I threw my paint down in 2012, a protest upon a virgin white cotton canvas. I hurled my visceral disturbances into the infinite void, losing control in search of my self. The dark mistress of chaos teased my intentions like a teenager drunk with ecstasy in a fatal striptease of expectations. Painting was a calling that refused to be silenced, an animistic channelling of a spiritual bond, the perfect arranged marriage of my African and European ancestral spirits.
From the chaos, orders began to rise until eventually lines were crossed and forms found flesh. Ancient memories haunted my practice, memories I neither knew I possessed nor understood the meaning of, memories of other worlds and other ways of seeing. I found myself in a dialogue with signs, sigils and symbols that unlock perception, decoding consciousness through the unfolding of creation. My paintings are not pictures for they are embodied African totems and European talismans, challenging conceptions of art in an embrace with the infinite through which the imagination may open its doors to my perception.
A century after Marcel Duchamp decided to stop painting, I decided to start painting. We were both initiated in the Alte Pinokathek by Durer and Cranach, into the mysterious ways that artists perceive. I surrendered to the calling, allowing my self to be dissolved, my ego decimated through depression, prejudice abandoned in order that something inside may die in order that something else may be born again, Solve et Coagula. I carry my past with me and shall always be nailed to the cross of my identity with razormesh blades and so the real world of sculpture will always be my burden, but now I have a new mistress too, painting. Permit me to introduce you to our mysteries ..."
Performance 'RitualResist' on 26.04.2014
Solve et Coagula, Galerie Yvon Lambert
108 rue Vieille-du-Temple
AlphaBête - Galerie Rodolphe Janssen
AlphaBête presents a selection of new works by Kendell Geers. A display of vibrant and powerful paintings, drawings and installations in which Kendell Geers suprises but reassures at the same time; his unique visual language as forceful as ever.
Through the paintings from the Ligne de Fuite series, french philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s transitional notion of “ligne de fuite” (that he coined with Félix Guittari to describe existence) manifests itself in the most subtle and natural way. But as much as the distorted and aestheticized razormesh lines attract, they also stick to the viewer, infinitely questioning space, borders and our continuing tangible and intangible, moral or emotional imprisonment.
This same razormesh, that forms a strong and personal element of Geers’ artistic practice throughout the years recurs in the Age of Iron series. These large rust on paper works, playing with symmetry and an intriguing texture, display again this typical South African product of violence and confinement, but emanate at the same time an infinite sense of beauty and quiet and form thus, in all their aesthetic glory, a perfect gateway to understanding Kendell Geers’ work.
As usual, Kendell Geers leaves for his audience subtle references and wordplays that incorporate but exceed the borders of his own personal
journey. He shares through his works more than a narration of his life, but a questioning of everybody elses.
AlphaBête, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen
06.09.2013 — 26.10.2013
Endgame - Galleria Continua Le Moulin
Endgame is not only a tribute to Samuel Beckett’s homonymous play but is also a reference to the end of a game of chess, when only very few pieces are left and each movement may provide the opponent with
the opportunity for checkmate leading to the end of the game.
According to Kendell Geers, the party is over in every sense. We live in a world today where all institutions have failed us and we remain leftover people, the surplus of the grand utopian ideologies of the past. We loathe ourselves, overconsume to cover up all that makes us natural beings; we are oblivious to every consequence of every action we undertake, and have long forgotten the true meaning
And so it is with an unwavering faith in art and the role of the artist; and with political, linguistic and spiritual references, that Kendell Geers has shown through his works presented at Fin de Partie, a reflection on the evolution and (lack of) revolution we are going through. The exhibition of oil barrels in China as a reference to the forbidden prayer wheels of tibetan monks, the juxtaposition of gold leafed police batons on a papal purple wall, the wordplay in the title of a work (EMPTY V) all hold within them the power to intrigue, interrogate and inform the viewer at the same time.
Since immemorial time artists, shamans and priests have been drawn to the spiritual and healing properties of resins in their work. The natural resins like Myrrh and Oliban (Frankincense) favored by the ancients have since given way to synthetic resins as the needs of industrialization and global consumption have eclipsed the need to respect our environment. "Flesh of the Shadow Spirit" is the embodiment of the demon of the synthetic age, the spirit of fossil fuels, the oil slick of the contemporary present.
An extraordinary event took place shortly after the start of the solo exhibition Fin de Partie by Kendell Geers in Beijing – on 3rd April 2011, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was arrested by the police and disappeared for 81days. Kendell Geers, indignant, wanted to support him by means of a symbolic gesture and requested that the gallery would close its doors in protest. To avoid that the staff could suffer bad consequences from this act, this artist tried to find another way to out his feelings about the detention.
He folded bright red Chinese flags into blindfolds and covered the eyes of his black resin sculptures, “Flesh of the Shadow Spirits”. The blindfolded figures were a humble protest in which Kendell Geers’ art was transformed into the victims of a state violence, the state that wishes to silence artists by shooting them in their imagination by firing squads of conformity. The red flags, made known to all Kendell Geers’ political support, made known that all were not blind of self to see and were an expression of his uncompromising and neverending belief in the power of art and artists.
The protest was not advertised at the time. The presentation of Endgame in France thus forms an opportunity to, in retrospect, present the protest to the public as Ai Weiwei remains on conditional release and does not have the permission to leave Chinese soil.
"One billion blindfolds will never stop the truth from being seen once it has been spoken by artists."
Endgame, Galleria Continua Le Moulin
Stealing Fire From Heaven - Galerist Istanbul
“Nothing is worse than what we can imagine”
“Where civilization entailed the corruption of barbarian virtues and the creation of dependent people, I decided, I was opposed to civilization.” (J. M. COETZEE, Waiting for the Barbarians)
Created specifically for this city, the exhibition is the artist’s personal spiritual call to arms, a political-erotical-mystical meditation in paint upon Bruce Nauman’s declaration that “The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths.”
Influenced by the first clause of Sol Lewitt’s manifesto, “Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusion that logic cannot reach,” Geers uses a Sol LeWitt wall drawing as a starting point for this series of paintings and drawings composed of outlines of Razormesh fence on canvas. The works transform the violence of a world divided by boarders and marked by fear into the symbolic world of spirit. The violence of cold steel gives way to a totemic emblem, charged with consciousness that holds creation and destruction, order and chaos, in a fragile contradictory balance. The paintings and drawings are portals through which spirit has been materialised and matter spiritualised.
The Razormesh or Razorwire fence, originally developed and patented in Apartheid South Africa has, since the artist’s childhood years, developed into an international presence, a silent sentinel marking every border and limits of the socio-political space. From the Eurostar platform at Gare du Nord in Paris to the gated communities of wealthy suburban mansions, from international political flashpoints and borders to airports, schools, prisons and hospitals, from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay, the razorwire fence has become an archetypal symbol of the present global condition.
“I have always been drawn to the thriving spiritual traditions of Istanbul, the spiritual layers of ancient archaeologies. From the secret messages of coffee grinds to the overlap of tarot cards, from the abstract shapes of lead cast into water to the Bible and Koran, the socially binding force of superstitions and folklore, from Gobekli Tepe to Hagia Sophia, the world of spirit, faith, mysticism and alchemy are all living traditions in the city once called Constantinople. Demanding more of myself and more from art than cynicism, parody and pastiche, I decided to take a leap of faith and steal fire from heaven. I resolved to interrogate my own practice in search of that mystical element that for Lewitt was the first condition of conceptual art.”
Stealing Fire from Heaven, Galerist
04.06.2013 — 06.07.2013