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South African artist Kendell Geers opens an exhibition at Carpenters Worksop Gallery
Installation view.



PARIS.- From the Flash to the Flesh, something is dismantled in Kendell Geers. The spirit no longer describes a common inspiration; it calls towards phenomena that are difficult to explain, like a poltergeist – a spirit that strikes. Once the spirit becomes flesh, the false merges with the true, the unity of reference breaks down. A space opens up to explore, to play with strangeness, false recognition and false perceptions – disorders of identity. What is “African art”? Does it consist of tangible plastic similarities? Or even, to put it like Leopold Senghor, the first president of Senegal, does it express the unity of a spirituality, of a philosophy?

On a support-mirror, an immense bronze sculpture: a woman without hands, whose forms echo the fabulous idea of an ancient African statuary that remains undefined. She is surrounded by eight bronze masks, placed on a support that reflects them one after the other. On the walls, a colored wallpaper, red – believe / lie. A text as a reflection. The device is posed without detour: lie, believe – the lie become the transparent measure of our beliefs.

The question of African art that runs through Geers’ curatorial work, particularly the one he conducted with Sindika Dokolo for the exhibition Incarnations (BOZAR, 2019), is redeployed here in his work as an artist. The plastic model is Afrocentric – it takes Africa as its center, but what matters is not to recompose the unity of an identity. It is a question of disturbing the game of continuities and affiliations, of remodeling families, of creating new links of kinship. Not to appropriate forms. But to summon the spirit of the forms, to manufacture figures resisting the possibility even to be fixed in a category, to be brought back to the univocity of a story. It is necessary to open another history of the art – the one where the works travel and are invited to cure us.

Born into a working-class Afrikaans family during the height of Apartheid, Kendell Geers quickly found himself fighting a Crime Against Humanity on the front lines of activism and protest. From his strong experiences as a revolutionary, he developed a psycho-social-political practice that held ethics and aesthetics to be opposite sides of the very same coin, spinning upon the tables of history. In his hands, the discourse of art history is interrogated, languages of power and ideological codes subverted, expectations smashed and belief systems transformed into aesthetic codes.

Describing himself as an AniMystikAktivist, Kendell Geers' work embodies a syncretic approach that weaves together diverse Afro-European traditions from Animism and Activism, to Alchemy, Mysticism and Ritual Magick. His strategies are without compromise because he believes that “Art changes the world - one perception at a time.”

MASKING TRADITION ( paintings series)

"Masking Tradition" takes as it's starting point the moment in 1907 when Picasso walked into the Trocadero in Paris and first encountered African Art. As a white African artist however, Kendell Geers, considers himself to be connected to the histories of both Europe and Africa and so he puts the mask back on and looks right back at Picasso from an African perspective. The Afro-Futurist mask is held in place by a web of golden threads that resemble a border fence across a constructivist pattern. It is not clear whether the mask is looking from the Colonial past through Post Colonial present towards the viewer in an abstract future or the other way around. Masking Tradition can be read as a portrait of the artist’s struggle with identity, history, faith and form through the prism of opposites shaped through the power of imagination into the fabric of art.










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