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Andro Wekua's Latest Film "Never Sleep with a Strawberry in Your Mouth" at Kunsthalle Wien
Exhibition view Kunsthalle Wien. Photo: Stephan Wyckoff: Andro Wekua, Untitled, 2010, Courtesy of the Artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels © Andro Wekua.

VIENNA.- Never Sleep with a Strawberry in Your Mouth is the title of Andro Wekua’s latest film finished for the present exhibition. The surreal title, which does hardly make sense as an instruction, astounds us with a nonsensical logic which is characteristic of the seductive power of symbolic art. Whether object, landscape, figure or portrait, the hyper-real beauty and absurdity of Andro Wekua’s works, their detachment from the world and their selfreferentiality unfold in an interplay between closeness and distance, intimacy and desire. The artist’s pictorial solutions are fuelled by everyday impressions and personal recollections which often focus on his childhood in the city of Sukhumi on the Black Sea in Georgia, where Wekua was born.

Anxious to see his works precisely executed in craft terms and developing an artistic practice taking its inspiration from the structure of palimpsests, the master collagist uses nearly every medium: the concord of space, sculpture, film, and twodimensional works guarantees an artistic impact whose expressive sublime pathos is balanced out with elements of poetic selfirony. Wekua’s art goes beyond the work in its three-dimensional setting by interweaving individual pieces to a gesamtkunstwerk’s larger contexts of meaning that leave the White Cube behind and make room for enigmatic atmospheres. In conjunction with large projections and darkened rooms, emotionally impressive arrangements, stage constructions, and a space within a space provide the startingpoint for a sensual art and its theatrical miseenscène. Andro Wekua’s work does comprise narrative impulses. Yet, in order to stimulate the viewers’ fantasies and associations, the artist deliberately confronts them with caesuras and does without a narrative flow. Again and again whims erupt both in the gesture and the terror of introspection: “Of course it doesn’t have to do with real violence – more with an atmosphere of violence, a threat, an oppressive atmosphere,” says the artist.

Wekua furnishes his three-dimensional structures with individual auratic figures, mostly lifesize young women made of wax that sprawl on shining chromiumplated motorcycles like in My Bike and Your Swamp 6 pm and, in their androgyny, resemble mannequins. His figures are oblivious to the world and have no eyes because the artist does not want them to return the visitor’s gaze, as he says. Endowed with a mannerist disposition and stoic calm, they live in a time of delay. Waiting with no end in sight, they breathe a somnambulistic security characteristic of melancholy. They have nothing to lose since they are not threatened by finiteness. With their ambiguous gestures and stereotyped poses, they are subject to a rhythm of attraction and repulsion, perfection and obsession and unfold an “anatomy of desire” that is sometimes reminiscent of works by Hans Bellmer and Medardo Rosso. Wekua’s frequently oppressive reflections on the beautiful body hint at Classicist implications, yet the artist pitilessly examines historical formulae of sculpture regarding their present suitability, sidesteps them, or installs placeholders for interpretation and resonance.

Kunsthalle Wien | Andro Wekua | "Never Sleep with a Strawberry in Your Mouth" |

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