Walk the Line: Robin Rhode at White Cube

8 Jun

With a bar set up on the pavement in Hoxton Square, White Cube certainly know how to make the most of the sunshine.  But, as is often the way with White Cube PVs, lots of the drinkers seemed to have migrated from nearby offices and bars rather than having come to see the exhibition.

Well, I wasn’t only there for the beer!  I had tripped specially over the East End’s cobbles to have a look at Robin Rhode’s new work – his second White Cube exhibition.

White Cube Hoxton Square.  Image via http://en.wikipedia.org

Initially, making performances based on his drawings of objects with which he interacts, Rhode frequently works with everyday materials – the focus of this exhibition is a chair.  His now highly sophisticated digital animations use sequences of photography combined with drawn imagery, uniting various media.

Rhode often returns to his native South Africa re-creating the scrappy energy from his local street culture and combining it with every-day materials which he then transforms using high-tech animations.  Treating the drawing as a three-dimensional object, Rhode’s work is often contradictory in concept.

Downstairs at White Cube has become a blackened cinema which presents five animations, taking the chair designs of Gerrit Rietveld as their starting point.  Rhode’s uses his own electronic soundtracks to accompany the installations with music ranging from therapeutic to unsettling.

Military Chair, 2011.  Image via www.whitecube.com

Piano Chair shows the annihilation of a piano where the chair, normally the aid for playing, is used as an object of destruction.  Often drawn on walls, reminiscent of street graffiti, as seen here, the charcoal line drawings are child-like in their execution, moving around the walls on their animated journeys.  The composer is trying to kill his piano – not something we normally witness but an act that is absurd, sad, debilitating.

Piano Chair, 2011.  Image via www.whitecube.com

Some of the works successfully make use of a two-screen projection.  Kinderstoel , for me, the most resonant of them, is one such piece that changes screens midway through the animation.

Kinderstoel, 2011.  Image via www.whitecube.com

The animations are played in sequence so that we move around the room as they do – another piece that implicates and involves the spectator.

Upstairs at White Cube.  Image via www.whitecube.com

Upstairs shows two new series of black and white photographs inspired by Blaise Pascal and his 1653 treatise on the arithmetical triangle.

Pascal’s Plates, 2011.  Image via www.whitecube.com

There is no doubt that this is good work but I didn’t feel it was great.  Compositionally, all the works are strong but nothing excites me in the way Rhode’s work has in the past.

Robin Rhode is at White Cube Hoxton Square until 9th July 2011, www.whitecube.com.

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