Kendell Geers at M77 Gallery: "i've seen hell"

November 26, 2020

His work is rooted in the social fabric of Johannesburg at the time of apartheid

Detention. Torture. Exile. Death. This is what the opponents of apartheid had to face in South Africa. But in spite of this, artist/activist Kendell Geers did not lack the courage to fight against cruelty. Until January 30, gallery M77 dedicates a solo show to him. It is called “OrnAmenTum’EtKriMen” and explores Kendell’s relationship with the wounds of man through his historic and new works. The artist’s story is rooted in the social fabric of Johannesburg at the time of full racial segregation, when being an Afrikaner meant being a part of that white minority that dominated the other 90% of population, who were black people. The rejection of this distorted mentality made him begin his war against horror at an early age; he was 15 when he started taking part in various anti-apartheid movements.

The consequences of his political stance forced him to move first to London, in 1988, and then to New York. It was only in 1994, when Mandela was released, that he could go back home. Kendell’s eyes have seen hell. Today, that hell has turned into democracy in his country, but economic inequality is still an issue. Moreover, that same hell is still present in other countries where hatred continues to contaminate society. The poetics of this artist is unavoidably profound and aimed to denounce injustice. His perturbing works, which cause short-circuits and distress, include installations, sculptures, videos, photographs, and drawings.  

The artist comes back to Italy After 3 editions of the Venice Biennale  

They speak straight to the gut of the observer, asking him to look at a ceiling made of bricks hanging by red nooses (Hanging Piece) or to get disoriented when the first letters of the Danger Terror Border neon writing disappear, highlighting the deepest meaning of these words: Anger Error Order. The threat of violence is back on the first floor through another impressive site-specific installation made up of broken glass and concrete, “Season in Hell” of 2004, that recalls the fragment of a beer bottle to which he entrusted his self-portrait in 1995. The title of the review, which quotes Adolf Loos’ “Ornament and Crime”, is a clear reference to Minimalism, which is at the basis of his direct and functional idiom. Drawing inspiration from traditional Dutch still-lifes, the exhibition also includes some cut flowers.

They symbolize the fleetingness of our certainties, which are constantly affected by the climatic sabotage we are carrying out ourselves. AniMystikAktivist is how the artist describes himself, contrasting the drifts of materialism with the return to nature and spirituality, and using art as a talisman. Curated by Danilo Eccher, the exhibition combines the colours, shapes and atmospheres of both Africa and Europe, which coexist in Geers’ soul, who now lives in Brussels. Back in Italy after taking part in three editions of the Venice Biennale and several solo shows, he leaves us with the awareness and at the same time the dream of a more and more pressing need for change.

Kendell Geers

M77 Gallery
Curated by
Danilo Eccher
Until 30/01

The Author

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Elena Altemura. Editorial Assistant. From linguistic studies she bounces to those of engineering and arrives, through a process of kinetic liberation, to digital marketing. Performing at a gallery in Pietrasanta she meets the director of AW ArtMag in 2019 to which she binds professionally, combining the Stendhal syndrome for Boltanski to the excitment for editing. In the office, she is tête-à-tête with the PC. At home, she looks out of her window, thinking, writing and planning the next reportage.

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