Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands 22 Oct 2022 - 05 Mar 2023
Installation view Yto Barrada – Bad Color Combos. Photo: Peter Tijhuis
Bad Color Combos presents an overview of the recent work of artist Yto Barrada, including film, textiles, photography, sculpture. This solo exhibition presents a selection of Barrada’s work of the last five years, together with new artwork conceived especially for the exhibition. In it, she continues to explore cultural phenomena, personal histories and natural processes. This is her first solo exhibition in the Netherlands with previously unseen, multidisciplinary work.
In Bad Color Combos Yto Barrada continues to explore cultural phenomena, personal histories and natural processes. In recent years, Yto Barrada has developed new series of works around themes such as the acceleration and deceleration of time; motherhood; the history of education; play; the artisanry of natural dyes and color as material; traditions of modernism and our futile attempts to control nature.
Modernism, an Alternative Vision
In her work, Yto Barrada often refers associatively to international modernism in an attempt to destabilize a western interpretation of art and to examine the local issues of globalization. In the After Stella series, she references a specific moment in the history of abstract painting: the color field paintings produced by the American artist Frank Stella in the mid-1960s. Stella drew his inspiration from his travels in Morocco and titled paintings after Moroccan cities. Alongside Stella, Barrada also invokes Mohamed Chebaa, Farid Belkahia, and Mohammed Melehi, painters affiliated with the Casablanca School in the 1960 who pioneered North African modernism in their abstract paintings.
This exhibition presents three of Barrada’s most important films in 8 and 16 mm: Tree Identification for Beginners (2017), The Power of Two or Three Suns (2020) and Continental Drift (2022). The Power of Two or Three Suns was shot in an industrial testing laboratory where a variety of materials and products are subjected to artificially simulated natural forces to assess their durability. The exposure of colors to the power of the (artificial) sun acts as a metaphor for the passage of time, for aging and decay, and for the impact of climate change and the ecological crisis.
Along with her sociopolitical concerns, Yto Barrada’s artistic practice is grounded in the idea of community, artistic kinship, and collaboration with friends and family. The artist explores her interest in play, education and experimentation in a gallery in which alongside her own work, she showcases that of female artists of three generations: Elodie Pong (b. 1968), Bettina (Bettina Grossman,1927-2021) as well as new work co-created with her 8-year-old daughter, Tamo.