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Pace opens first solo exhibition of works by Robert Rauschenberg in Hong Kong
Installation View © 2016 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Courtesy Pace Hong Kong.

HONG KONG.- Pace Hong Kong is presenting the first solo exhibition of works by Robert Rauschenberg in Hong Kong. Including works from his Shiner, Spread and Urban Bourbon series, as well as from his Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI) project, the show exemplifies Rauschenberg’s constant reevaluation of material, the nature of perception and how we process images, and the artist’s innovative processes of picture transfer. In 2015, Pace New York presented Anagrams, Arcadian Retreats, Anagrams (A Pun)—an exhibition of the artist’s late works—and announced the gallery’s representation of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, celebrating Pace’s longstanding relationship with the artist.

Robert Rauschenberg is revered as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century and is recognized for his fusion of painting, installation, photography, printmaking and performance art. Throughout his nearly sixty-year career, he challenged the existing parameters of art in a practice marked by constant experimentation and innovation, blurring the lines between different mediums as well as the distinction between art and life. His integration of painting and found objects led to his signature practice of Combine Painting. As a staunch innovator, Rauschenberg ceaselessly reevaluated existing materials and techniques throughout his life, breaking the framework of modernism with his extemporaneous creations. In the 1950s and 60s, works such as Bed (1955) and Canyon (1959) broke free of the spatial limitations of the two-dimensional canvas, while the use of everyday readymade materials in the paintings inspired the work of many artists to follow. Rauschenberg was one of the first artists to use mass media images as a collage material in silkscreen printing, an innovative practice that preceded Pop Art and had an enormous impact on the rise of the movement.

Pace Hong Kong presents five works by Rauschenberg spanning from the end of the 1970s to the early 1990s. In the late 1970s, Rauschenberg’s creative focus shifted from performance back to Combine Painting, resulting in his Slide series, which combines canvas, photographic printing and other flat materials in sweeping compositions. This exhibition features the work Forged Gift (1979) from this series.

For the works in the Shiner series, created between 1986 and 1993, the artist silkscreened his own photographic images onto steel or mirrored aluminum plates alongside three-dimensional metal objects. Canine E Cane (1987) uses an image that the artist captured during his travels in Venezuela for Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI), a self-funded artistic and philanthropic initiative that Rauschenberg carried out between 1984 and 1991 in ten countries to promote peace and cross-cultural communication. Earth Haunts (1985) from ROCI Venezuela uses acrylic and sand, creating a textured surface that is further emphasized by the effect of the layered imagery. From ROCI Malaysia, Hutan Belantara (Virgin Forest) (1990) reflects Rauschenberg’s attention to the environmental destruction in the region and his underlying concern for the conflict between urban and indigenous cultures in the country. Also included in the exhibition is Around the Clock (1993), a six-meter artwork from the Urban Bourbon series, which continues the integration of overlapping imagery with gestural brushstrokes to create reflective depth in a five-part work that uses two kinds of metal as its surface.

Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925, Port Arthur, Texas; d. 2008, Captiva, Florida) emerged as one of the most significant figures of postwar American art. Following his studies at Black Mountain College, Rauschenberg created a series of seminal monochrome paintings and continued to challenge assumptions about the essence of painting with his Combines (1954–64), which paved the way for Pop art as well as new directions in assemblage and painting. Also in the 1960s, Rauschenberg was an early innovator of screen printing and later explored technology with Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.). In 1970, he established Captiva, Florida, as his primary residence though he remained active in New York and abroad, working with artists and choreographers as well as lawmakers, pushing his belief in art as a vital force in ushering in a better world. As part of the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange, the National Art Museum of China in Beijing hosted an exhibition of the artist’s work in 1985, which had a significant impact on the Chinese art world and directly influenced Chinese contemporary artists in the early stages of the 85 New Wave.

In 1990, Rauschenberg established his eponymous foundation to further his lifelong goals of effecting social change through his art. Today, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation works to preserve this mission, supporting social causes such as education and the environment, fostering artistic practices through grants and residencies and cultivating scholarship and awareness of Rauschenberg’s work and legacy. The Foundation is jointly represented by Pace; Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, Paris and Salzburg; and Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo.

During his life, Rauschenberg’s work was the subject of numerous solo exhibitions and was included in significant group exhibitions including Documenta and the Venice Biennale, where he was awarded the International Grand Prize in Painting in 1964. His work is represented in more than one hundred public collections.

In November 2016 the Tate Modern, London, will present the first retrospective of Rauschenberg’s work since his death. The exhibition will travel to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the redesigned San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The most recent career retrospective of Rauschenberg, curated by Walter Hopps and Susan Davidson for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1997, traveled to the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and Houston’s three major museums: the Contemporary Arts Museum, The Menil Collection and Museum of Fine Arts.

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