Stephen Friedman Gallery presents Kendell Geers’ fifth exhibition at the gallery which follows his recent major retrospective at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. Born in South Africa and now living in Belgium, the show’s title ‘Crossing the Line’ recalls both the journey of the artist’s cultural heritage crossing the equator and his recent move into painting.
Born into a white working-class Afrikaans family at the height of apartheid, Geers ran away from home at 15 and later changed his name and date of birth, rejecting his roots and reclaiming his identity. While Geers’ career has long been defined by the provocative and the political, his more recent works interweave the poetic and address the personal salvation he has found in art. Through painting and sculpture, Geers crosses the borders of media, design, politics and history and transforms the experiences and emblems of his youth into powerful transcendental symbols.
Featured in the exhibition is a new body of work made from razor wire, a material that has been a signature for the artist throughout his career. Geers describes razor wire as ‘the sign of my childhood, the symbol of my nation, the curse of my ancestors’. A new series of paintings feature classical iconography entwined with intersecting lines and geometric shapes rendered in gold. Inspired by the Sienese painters from the thirteenth to fifteenth century, Geers interweaves the razor mesh with traditional iconography and abstract forms. The end result is a subtle meditation on the sacred and the profane, a common thread in Geers’ work.
‘Crossing the Line’ presents a powerful and poetic new direction for the artist’s work. Simultaneously captivating and unnerving, Geers’ continues to push the boundaries of his practice while questioning our preconceptions of contemporary and traditional iconography.