This exhibition takes the word ‘cleave’ as it’s starting point.
‘Cleave’ has an inherent double meaning, both to divide and to join together.
Focusing primarily on the work of Robert Rauschenberg, this selection of works looks at ideas of splitting an image – both technically in its manifestation, and conceptually in it’s internal status. One of the great qualities of Rauschenberg’s practice as a whole is his ability to keep things incomplete – his works point us both into themselves and beyond themselves into the world.
The three main pieces in this exhibition, and indeed perhaps three of the most well know of Rauschenberg’s earlier work, are the Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953), Gold Standard (1964) and the pair, Factum I & II (1957).
The notorious Erased de Kooning Drawing has been cleaved into two inseparable elements – firstly what is evident and presented as a palpable presence, and secondly it’s duplicated presence as an absence of what it was. The very act of removal is a process of addition – the erasing gestures are both concealing and revealing, and the result sits indeterminately within this and/or divide.
Gold Standard takes the form of a folding screen – a device that determines and divides a space. A screen contains a double function – both to conceal and protect that which is behind it, and to provide a support for projection and display on its front. In its traditional use, the folding screen works as a moveable domestic interior space behind which to get changed, and on front of which often serves as a decorative feature, perhaps to distract from the intriguing conceal of the intimate and personal space kept out of view. Furthermore, the very nature of a folded object contains a illustration of the theoretical device of the hinge – an element which both joins and divides.
The pair of works, Factum I & II provide a third example of cleaving – the duplication of an image. Two works which confirm and negate each other in their relation, they highlight questions of intention, difference and signature. The image has been rendered incomplete – cut in half by it’s double.
Confirmation and negation – concealing and revealing – removals and storage.
Rauschenberg’s work addresses these themes throughout his extensive and varied practice. His inimitable gesture servers as both a confirmation and an obliteration, the continued use of veils and layered image supports, and particularly the processes of transfer drawings and printmaking wherein the very nature of the creation of images is one of cleaving – forcing together and peeling apart.
This exhibition also includes a selection of works from other artists, relating to this theme in varying ways, simply and playfully, visually and intellectually, and hopefully in a way that extends beyond this communion and into the world.