Kendell Geers

Incorporating language, ready-mades, broken glass, film, performance, and other elements, Kendell Geers (Johannesburg, 1968) creates work that disrupts social norms and codes. Employing a wide range of references—from art history to pornography, iconography to kitsch—Geers questions the value of aesthetics and thumbs his nose at the concept of originality. Laden with complex political references to racial or religious stereotypes, his work is challenging, confrontational, and, at the same time, humorous. His earliest and best-known work has its origins in the artist’s anti-Apartheid activities and subsequent exile from South Africa, incorporating the harsh visual and performative language of activism—in Title Withheld (Brick) (1994/96), Geers threw a brick through a gallery window; in Title Withheld (Deported) (1993/97), he constructed a charged electric fence to cordon off a gallery space from visitors. Geers made a splash in 1993 when he urinated in Marcel Duchamp’s iconic Fountain.

Exhibitions

M77 presents OrnAmenTum’EtKriMen, a solo show by South African artist and activist Kendell Geers (Johannesburg, 1968) curated by Danilo Eccher, open to the public from Monday 21 September 2020 to Saturday 30 January 2021.

European by descent, African by birth, Kendell Geers defines himself as both animist and mystic, shaman and alchemist, punk and poet. Committed to the fight against apartheid from a very young age, Geers used his experience as a revolutionary to develop a psycho-socio-political approach in which ethics and aesthetics are viewed as two sides of the same coin spinning on the giant table of history. In his hands, the vast narrative of art is brought into question, the languages of power and ideological codes are disrupted, expectations dashed, and systems of belief are transformed into aesthetic canons.

The contradictions that are intrinsic to the artist’s identity are embodied in his work. His pieces combine personal with political, poetry with misery, violence with erotic tension. Geers works in various media and techniques, ranging from everyday objects to large-scale installations, and comprising the use of neon, performance and video.

The exhibition’s title OrnAmenTum’EtKriMen is based on the 1908 essay Ornament and Crime by Austrian architect Adolf Loos, pioneer of modern architecture who condemned the decorations on the façades of buildings as a useless, even dangerous excess, steering the course of architecture towards the concept of functionality. For M77, Geers embraces Loos’ cultural heritage by interrogating the languages of Minimalism and the model of gallery white cube, throwing aesthetics against the brick wall of experienced and shards of broken ethics.

Through a selection of historic pieces, his newest production and site-specific installations designed to interact with the gallery’s interiors, the artist creates an itinerary in which the juxtaposition of different materials and the powerful impact created by his use of colour and pattern give rise to a series of cross-references and contrasts intended to threaten the cherished beliefs of the observer, consciously or unconsciously immersed in a setting that is indeed attractive but that is in fact inhospitable and potentially dangerous.

OrnAmenTum’EtKriMen is a call to arms, but instead of bullets, love, like art, is a weapon of transformation because « Art Changes the World – One Perception at a Time ».

At M77 Gallery:

Date: 22/09/2020

- 02/04/2021

Artworks

Garden of Forking Paths 7325 (Kendell Geers)

Year: 2020
Technique: Stampa lenticolare
Dimensions: 100 × 70 cm

Garden of earthly delights 6712 (Kendell Geers)

Year: 2020
Technique: C-print
Dimensions: 100 × 70 cm

Les Fleurs du Mal 8205 (Kendell Geers)

Year: 2020
Technique: Acrilico su carta
Dimensions: 102 × 66 cm

Les Fleurs du Mal 4012 (Kendell Geers)

Year: 2020
Technique: Acrilico su tela
Dimensions: 102 × 66 cm

 Les Fleurs du Mal 6439 (Kendell Geers)

Year: 2019
Technique: 170 × 105 cm
Dimensions: Acrilico su tela

Les Fleurs du Mal 1318 (Kendell Geers)

Year: 2019
Technique: Acrilico su tela
Dimensions: 80 × 80 cm

Les Fleurs du Mal 3939 (Kendell Geers)

Year: 2020
Technique: Acrilico su tela
Dimensions: 160 × 99 cm

TW (I.N.R.I.) 204 (Kendell Geers)  

Year: 1995
Technique: Nastro adesivo Chevron su oggetto perduto
Dimensions: 61 × 36 × 10 cm

A Rose by Any Other Name (Kendell Geers)

Year: 2007
Dimensions: 60 × 35 cm

 Mutus Liber (Fetish) 7892 (Kendell Geers)

Year: 2009

Publications

News

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