Rachel Kneebone: 399 Days

Rachel Kneebone: 399 Days

Friday, July 18, 2014Sunday, September 28, 2014

144-152 Bermondsey Street
London, SE1 3TQ United Kingdom

‘...the works’ ivory-porcelain bodies delineate a psycho-sexual hinterland in which conventional boundaries between language and ideas, modelling and collage are irrevocably blurred in a determined refutation of history – or at least of the passage of time. Anagrams of passion and violence, they distil the beauty of visceral experience in the timely process of their making.’ David Elliot (2010)

White Cube is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Rachel Kneebone. The largest and most ambitious single installation the artist has yet produced, 399 days consolidates and extends Kneebone’s practice, developing her unique formal language and exploration of the human condition.

In this large-scale monochrome work, a series of highly detailed porcelain tiles with intensely worked figurative scenarios are constructed to form an intricate architectural sculpture. The work follows on from Kneebone’s earlier large-scale installation entitled The Descent (2009), but whereas The Descent sought to communicate fear through making its visceral equivalent in beauty, 399 Days endeavours to create a sense of ‘nothingness’ through an overabundance of form and an excess of detail. Huge in scale, it makes reference to such iconic architectural monuments as the 19th-century plaster cast of Trajan’s Column in the Victoria and Albert Museum and Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, but uses its own immense size to enact a dissolve of meaning and, simultaneously, its own complex form to express formlessness.

As always with Kneebone’s sculpture, the body is ever-present although here it frequently appears fragmented, abstracted or collapsed. Blurring the boundaries between the conscious and the subconscious, the real and the imagined, the work sets up dualities between the micro and macro, life and death, everything and nothing, placing emphasis on the physical expression of ideas and a process of active looking whereby the whole cannot be grasped in one single measure. Informed by the writings of Bataille and RD Laing (and, in particular, his 1970 work Knots), 399 Days visibly embraces the uncontrolled, exploiting the natural capabilities and restrictions of porcelain to create areas of highly controlled figuration against freer, expressive areas of modelling which allows the tactile qualities of the material to be present. This physical manipulation of clay, evident at the top of the sculpture where the structure appears to dissolve away, creates an emphatic push/pull with both material and form; a highly singular and complex language that both attracts and repels the viewer.

Rachel Kneebone was born in 1973 in Oxfordshire and lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Regarding Rodin’ at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (2012) and ‘Lamentations’, White Cube, London (2010). Group exhibitions include ‘3am: Wonder, Paranoia and the Restless Night’, The Bluecoat, Liverpool and Chapter, Cardiff (2013-14), ‘The Best of Times, The Worst of Times. Rebirth and Apocalypse in Contemporary Art’, 1st Kiev Biennale Arsenale, Ukraine (2012), ‘Living in Evolution’, Busan Biennale, South Korea, ‘The Surreal House’, Barbican Centre, London, ‘The Beauty of Distance', 17th Biennale of Sydney (all 2010), ‘Summer Exhibition’, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2008), ‘Mario Testino at home’, Yvon Lambert, New York (2007) and ‘The Way We Work’, Camden Arts Centre, London (2005). In 2005, Kneebone was nominated for the MaxMara Art Prize.