Leaping Hermit, 2011
3 painted aluminum lightboxes with transmounted chromogenic transparencies
285.7 x 558.5 x 17.8 cm / 112 1/2 x 219 7/8 x 7 in
Opening: Saturday 11 June, 6 – 8 pm
Hauser & Wirth Zürich is delighted to present an exhibition of major new works, including lightboxes, films and paintings, by the Canadian artist Rodney Graham. Graham’s art examines the complexities of Western culture through strategies of disguise and quotation. Casting himself as a succession of motley characters, Graham inhabits different personae, genres and art forms, working with diverse media such as film, photography, installation, painting, music and text. ‘It may be a burden to reinvent oneself every time,’ Graham has said, ‘but it makes things more interesting’.
The exhibition features new monumental lightboxes ‘The Leaping Hermit’ and ‘The Avid Reader’. ‘The Leaping Hermit’ presents an intricately detailed scene, showing Graham bearded and bedraggled, a free-spirited Bohemian caught in mid-jump as though joyfully experiencing a revelation from above. The three-part format of the work evokes medieval triptych painting. Its garden landscape and composition loosely recalls Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘Adoration of the Magi’, while the pose of the hermit seems to borrow from Matthias Grünewald’s resurrected Christ. Yet despite the biblical associations alluded to, like many of Graham’s works, the image defies interpretation, its subject unknown to religious mythology.
‘The Avid Reader’ shows the artist in the role of rapt slacker absorbed in something we cannot see. The lightbox recreates the shopfront of a closed (or maybe re-opening) Woolworths in 1949, its windows covered with newspapers dating from 1945. Graham, playing the part of the avid reader, stands in front of the shop, transfixed by the headlines in the newspapers. To create the image, Graham first had to fabricate a street and then perform within it, making a situation familiar to us through a history peculiarly his own.
Graham’s film ‘The Green Cinematograph (Programme 1: Pipe smoker and overflowing sink)’ tests the Kuleshov Effect, an editing technique that makes the viewer create a connection between two unrelated scenes. Shown using an old cinematograph, it cuts between images of Graham smoking a pipe and bubbles filling and spilling from a sink, the elusive meanings and sculptural forms of smoke and foam implicating one another.
A series of Graham’s paintings will also be presented at Hauser & Wirth Zürich. In a style reminiscent of the modernism of Picasso and Braque, Graham’s canvases are small, monochrome, heavy impasto works, created by painting, and then re-painting over the artist’s earlier canvases.
On Saturday 11 June, The Rodney Graham Band will begin their European tour in Zurich with a concert at the Helsinki Club. For further information on this and the band’s future performances, please visit Hauser & Wirth’s website, www.hauserwirth.com.