Having established themselves as voices that oppose the world’s dominant narratives, Ward, a New York-based artist, and Rhode, a Berlin-based artist, are joining forces at Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong for a double exhibition in April this year. While both artists blend high art with low art through unique metaphorical perspectives that refer to different cultures, politics, and history – it is not just the size of their drawings and installations which leave audiences in awe. What has particularly drawn me towards their work is their choice of medium. While Ward works with shoelaces, as seen in his Power Wall – Power People (2019), Rhode plays with soap, charcoal, chalk, and paint. They both activate their works directly on walls, giving the static works a suggestive performative aspect.
Ward has built his whole career by juxtapositioning found objects with their “functional purposes, cultural associations, and metaphorical potential.” This makes the clenched fist especially interesting. By rendering the universal symbol of solidarity with a material that is highly familiar to the audience’s everyday life, it not only allows the viewer to have a personal experience with the piece of work but also hints at the “human tendency to strive for power and authority.”
Instead of being concerned with what marks are left behind, Rhodes focuses on his creation process, which explains why he photographically documents his works. In his work S (2014), the repeatedly drawn paperclips create a narrative progression that introduces the idea of tension between the letter, the body, and the sheets of paper.
Amidst of the coronavirus situation, the gallery will be launching an online-viewing room tomorrow, feel free to register here to experience exhibited artworks straight at home: https://www.lehmannmaupin.com/viewing-room
Robin Rhode & Nari Ward
April 3 – May 16, 2020
407 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Hong Kong
Image: Nari Ward, Power Wall – Power People, 2019
Shoelaces, 120 x 60 x 2.5 inches (304.8 x 152.4 x 6.4 cm)
Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul