artist / participant



press release

This autumn, The Hayward presents the first UK exhibition by South African artist Robin Rhode. A recognised talent on the international art scene, Rhode has a growing reputation for brilliantly inventive performances, photographs and drawings. Robin Rhode: Who Saw Who, 7 October – 7 December 2008 is curated by Stephanie Rosenthal, the Chief Curator, The Hayward.

Raised in Johannesburg, Rhode's art personifies a playful style which is influenced by his South African upbringing, spending time on the streets and being forced to make your own fun. Using simple materials such as chalk, spray paint and charcoal, Rhode turns the pavements, streets and walls of the city into his paper, canvas and backdrop, creating his own reality in the heart of urban society. These two dimensional drawings are then brought to life by performance and captured on film or photograph, as the artist or a doppelganger tries to blow out a chalk candle, juggle with charcoal balls or ride a chalk bicycle.

The Hayward exhibition will give an overview of Rhodes's work drawn from the last ten years as well as showing new pieces. The installation brings together photographs, animations and film projects, sculptures and wall drawings. Rhode will also create new commissions for the show in the form of outdoor site-specific works on and around Southbank Centre, turning the whole site into his working 'studio'. These works will be documented and incorporated into the exhibition. With Rhode's work, racial, social, class and geopolitical elements take a central role in the critical reworking of the nature and value of materials and in the action of making art.

Ralph Rugoff, Director of The Hayward, said; "Robin's work presents life as a game, with fantastical scenarios that ask the viewer to trust in their own imaginations to bridge the gaps. But these seemingly light hearted works often disguise a darker subtext, including issues of urban poverty, freedom and personal space and the commodification of youth cultures. Robin produces engaging, thought provoking work and The Hayward is delighted to introduce its visitors to a major artist of the future."

The exhibition will include works from his photographic series, such asCatch Air (2003), where a skateboarder deftly negotiates a chalk drainpipe ramp, gathering speed from side to side as he finally makes the 'jump'. In a later work, Untitled (Hard Rain) (2005), the subject uses an umbrella to protect himself from a painted heavy downpour which remains after he leaves the scene. It is in these works that Rhode first demonstrated a more expressive painterly quality that went on to inform his more recent works, including abstract paintings and drawings showing at The Hayward. Of the films being shown, Candle (2007), a 16mm film projection, shows the viewers a scene that flickers from dark to light as a man works to extinguish a candle.

Soap and Water (2007) is a sculpture of a bike cast from soap and subsequently left to dissolve as it battles the English weather on The Hayward's sculpture courts. Sculpture is a recent departure in practice for Rhode, which like the transient nature of his street drawings and performances use materials that are impermanent, such as soap, charcoal and chalk.

Rhode's work mixes a fine art sensibility, following in the footsteps of artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Jean-Michel Basquiat, with a keen understanding of popular contemporary culture, with influences including music videos, street art and contemporary clothing brands.

only in german

Robin Rhode
Who Saw Who

Kuratorin: Stephanie Rosenthal