Friday, April 24
5:00 – 7:30 pm
In conjunction with the exhibition "keeping secrets: fetish in african art," curated by Douglas Dawson, Rhona Hoffman Gallery is pleased to present evoking spirit. Contemporary artists in this group exhibition have been selected for the ways in which they investigate the practice of placing spiritual significance on objects or the act of translating an imbued essence from a material. Moving beyond the physical reality of the works, this exhibition resurrects the esoteric power that shapes our connection to artwork.
This thought-provoking group exhibition begins with an understanding of the human tendency to be impacted by the power of an object. This understanding is challenged in the selected artworks through the deconstruction, celebration, or reversal of the composition of an object’s essence.
Deana Lawson’s photographs of contemporary voodoo ceremonies in Haiti act as a palpable bridge between the instruments of divination and ritual on view in keeping secrets and the contemporary artworks featured in evoking spirit. Artists Pascal Marthine Tayou, Huma Bhabha, and Pier Paolo Calzolari utilize mixed media, natural elements, and discarded commercial materials in their work to awaken a deeper spirit and perceived power in a displaced setting.
Conversely, sculptures by Xavier Toubes and Patricia Rieger exist in poetic spaces and attempt to capture intangible elements such as beauty, imagination, and self- perception. Meanwhile, David Schutter renders physical encounter with canonical paintings through re-performing their surface from memory, an act of phenomenological study of the art object’s power. Anne Wilson unravels issues of history, domesticity, and social ritual in her fiber-based conceptual art practice.
Artists Robert Heinecken and Luis Gispert have taken a more critical approach, questioning the thrust of desire and power embodied by commercial objects. By awakening the specters in each artist's practice, this exhibition brings to light their explorations in issues of authenticity, desire, and memory.
Artists included: HUMA BHABHA, PIER PAOLO CALZOLARI, LUIS GISPERT, ROBERT HEINECKEN, DEANA LAWSON, PATRICIA RIEGER, DAVID SCHUTTER, PASCALE MARTHINE TAYOU, XAVIER TOUBES, ANNE WILSON
keeping secrets: fetish in african art Douglas Dawson at Rhona Hoffman Gallery
4/24/2015 - 5/30/2015
The collaborative exhibition between Douglas Dawson Gallery and Rhona Hoffman Gallery explores the complex role of fetish in traditional African culture. While often misunderstood in the West, fetish in the context of African art is used to define the objects used by traditional animistic African cultures to control and disseminate the powerful secret knowledge that kept society in balance with the dangerous spirit world.
Until recently many African cultures maintained secret societies into which young males were initiated, usually upon reaching puberty, and instructed in the secret knowledge and rituals necessary for maintaining social cohesion. Associated with the societies were objects imbued with particular powers that functioned as tools for the perilous negotiations between worlds. Early Europeans viewed such objects with great derision on both religious and aesthetic grounds. Only with the evolution of the vocabulary of 20th century modern art has the fetish object been seen in a new perspective.
Many fetish objects’ conceptual foundations are understood, if ever in totality, by a select few mature members of a given cult and meaning is gradually dispensed often in metaphoric or symbolic narrative. They are a physical manifestation of abstract knowledge and in that sense have a certain affinity with 20th century Western sculpture and modern art.
Fetish objects were also created on a more personal level apart from the secret societies. Individual supplicants commissioned specific, and often very personal, fetish objects in collaboration with the shaman to address a particular objective; health, defense from spells, pregnancy, or divination. The object would be taken to the altar of the supplicant where sacrifices would be made and acts of veneration performed; rich, crusty, layered surfaces are physical traces of their personal history.
The majority of the approximately fifty objects and textiles in this exhibition are from West and Central Africa. They include both figurative and abstract sculpture, masks, ceramics, textiles and iron and copper alloy pieces used in divination.
Rhona Hoffman Gallery is an ideal context to present this enigmatic art form; African fetish, to a new and receptive audience. While we cannot know the exact meaning of most of these objects they nonetheless project a profound sense of power, mystery, and art that is very accessible to the 21st century eye.
Download the online catalogue via the link below: https://www.dropbox.com/s/i9t4gpyhehcjyn4/DDG-Catalog-WebSafe-20150416-4-mw.pdf?dl=0
The exhibition of fetish objects takes place at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.
Fetish-related textiles will be on display at Douglas Dawson Gallery.
For additional information on Douglas Dawson Gallery: email: firstname.lastname@example.org