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"Jason Rhoades, Four Roads" among the most ambitious exhibitions Philadelphia's ICA has ever presented
Jason Rhoades, The Creation Myth, 2013. Installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo: Aaron Igler/Greenhouse Media.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Jason Rhoades, Four Roads is the first major American museum exhibition of this exceptional artist who died in 2006 at the age of 41. Rhoades, who grew up in California and studied with Richard Jackson and Paul McCarthy, is better known and collected in Europe than he is in the United States. He built what he claimed was the world’s largest sculpture at the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany in 1999, and had a major installation at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. Part of a generation of artists who created vivid sprawling environments out of a wide range of materials, Rhoades counted Marcel Duchamp, Donald Judd, race car driver Ayrton Senna, actor Kevin Costner, and the movie Car Wash, among his many diverse cultural touchstones, both high and low.

Rhoades’s spectacular, overloaded installations are immediately accessible and eye-catching, and at the same time deeply systematic, detailed, and rewarding of careful historical and critical engagement. Using found objects, neon, Lego, power tools, macramé, snaking wires, figurines, and a vast range of other materials, Rhoades’s work brings the viewer in with humor, vibrancy, and the provocative audacity of his vision. His work is also deeply American. His engagement with American car culture, cowboys, power tools, consumer culture, and the ethic of the self-made pervades, evoking a version of the American ethos that is playfully supercharged and sometimes ironic but always peculiarly sincere.

Jason Rhoades, Four Roads occupies the entire ICA, with four installations to be navigated by four interpretive paths or roads: Jason Rhoades, American Artist; Jason the Mason, (a biographical thread named for a favorite children’s book character); systems (language, scale, indexing, economies), and taboo. By foregrounding these themes, the exhibition aims to map the installations, unify the exhibition, and offer points of entry into the sprawling, labyrinthine body of work that Rhoades conceived of as one overarching project. The show has been anchored by four major installations: Garage Renovation New York (Cherry Makita), 1993; The Creation Myth, 1998; Sutter’s Mill, 2000; and Untitled (from My Madinah: In pursuit of my ermitage…), 2004/2013.

Jason Rhoades, Four Roads is among the most ambitious exhibitions ICA has ever presented. ICA anticipates that it will create a foundation for the future legacy of Rhoades’s art, generating new audiences and new scholarship, and advancing a deeper understanding of a body of work that is both highly accessible and art historically complex. An international tour will begin at the Orange County Museum of Art.

Jason Rhoades (1965-2006) attended the California College of Arts and Crafts, received a BA in fine arts at the San Francisco Art Institute, and earned an MFA from UCLA. He also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Major monographic exhibitions include: the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2006); Le Magasin – Centre National d’Art Contemporain de Grenoble, France (2005); Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld, Germany (2000); and the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany (1999), and he exhibited at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007). His work is held in the permanent collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Tate Gallery, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

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