Rhode’s distinctive practice uses everyday materials such as chalk and charcoal to draw directly onto Johannesburg’s concrete walls, asphalt streets and public places, exploring the act of creative expression while referencing popular culture, graffiti art and the complex history of South Africa.
Rhode’s work often portrays the artist, or a ‘doppelgänger’, interacting physically with his two-dimensional wall drawings, transforming cityscapes into three-dimensional imaginary worlds.
Tony Ellwood, NGV Director, said, “Rhode is a multidisciplinary artist who uses the street as a canvas to create highly inventive and often poetic works. We’re very pleased to hold his first solo exhibition in Australia and to be the first Australian gallery to stage his wonderful project for children, Paries Pictus.”
The Call of Walls consists of two gallery spaces – one displays Rhode’s engaging blend of fine art, street culture and performance through his photography and animation; while the other explores the act of drawing through an interactive space especially designed for children and families.
The unique children’s space expands the artist’s site-specific project Paries Pictus, encouraging people large and small to come together to colour-in an installation of large-scale wallpaper paste-ups using coloured crayons. Paries Pictus, named after the Latin term for ‘wall drawing’, has previously been staged in New York, USA, and Turin, Italy.
Maggie Finch, Curator of Photography, NGV, said, “Despite his current residence in Berlin, Rhode continues to work in and be firmly engaged with his hometown in South Africa. He returns to the streets of Johannesburg to produce much of his work; streets that are marked with the complex histories of a city that has emerged from the period of institutional apartheid to become a vibrant, bustling yet dangerous place.”
“The Call of Walls explores Rhode’s long held passion, perhaps even his compulsion, to make marks and carry on the age-old act of drawing onto the surface of walls. His deceptively simple works alter public spaces in significant ways.”
“The physical interaction with these wall drawings, which Rhode then records through photography, transforms simple abstract shapes into narrative sequences that have a gentle, pulsing visual rhythm.”
Robin Rhode: The Call of Walls presents eleven of the artist’s recent photographic works and ten of his recent animations.
Robin Rhode: The Call of Walls
National Gallery of Victoria – St. Kilda Rd, Melbourne
17 May – 15 September 2013
For more information, visit: www.ngv.vic.gov.au for details.
Image: Robin Rhode born South Africa 1976 Twilight 2012-13 (detail) digital type C print (a-h) 41.6 x 61.6 cm (each) (framed) Collection of the artist, Berlin and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong Image courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong © Robin Rhode Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York and Hong Kong