Culture Whisper loves what’s on at the White Cube Bermondsey this summer. Not only Gilbert & George but a stunning Rachel Kneebone exhibition of intricate porcelain sculptures
Rachel Kneebone is back at the White Cube gallery for her second solo-show 399 Days. The exhibition presents Kneebone’s most recent collection of exquisitely delicate, white porcelain works, considered to be the London-based artist’s largest and most ambitious installation to date. They display the virtuoso skill and craftsmanship that makes her work both abstract and highly ornamental.
Contemporary Rococo flair
Kneebone previously exhibited a piece called The Descent at the White Cube in 2008 which included sculptural reliefs of contorted bodies, loosely inspired by the 18th century Rococo paintings of Antoine Watteau. Similarly, 399 takes inspiration from the 'feminine' and 'frivolous' genre of Rococo, striving to create an aesthetic of excess which oscillates between a sense of abundance and “nothingness.” The minimalist interior of the White Cube brings out the intricacies of Kneebone’s delicate to profound effect.
One could describe Kneebones sexually-charged works as verging on postmodernist ‘pastiche’, especially if we compare her porcelain’s to the sensuous bronze and marble sculptures of August Rodin. Like Rodin, her works are expressive, encompassing the themes of love and fear, yet hers become crude when each figure turns either into male and female genitalia.
The sexual politics of craft
Kneebone’s clear interest in (and interrogation of) gender extends to her use of material as well as subject matter. Traditionally, ceramic and porcelain were associated with wealth and domesticity; the English Georgian household of tea drinking and ‘gentile’ conversation. Kneebone breaks this stereotype. Her small-scale sculptures hold the emotive power and force of the late-Greek marble sculptures, evoking masterpieces such as The Winged Victory of Samothrace seen at the Louvre, or Laöcoon and His Sons. Kneebone subverts the historical tradition whereby porcelain and ceramic belong solely to the ‘feminine’ and domestic sphere, propelling them into an artistic realm that has been associated with heroism and masculinity. Her irreverent play with the gender assumptions entrenched in art history is not only funny and clever, but also uniquely beautiful.
|What||Rachel Kneebone, White Cube Bermondsey|
|Where||White Cube Bermondsey, 144-152 Bermondsey Street , London, SE1 3TQ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Bridge (underground)|
18 Jul 14 – 28 Sep 14, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information via the White Cube|