Rodolphe Janssen | Banks Violette - 19.04.2008

Banks Violette

19.04.2008 > 17.05.2008

information

Galerie Rodolphe Janssen is pleased to present an exhibition of recent works by the New York artist Banks Violette. This is his second solo show at the gallery. Born in Ithaca (NY) in 1973, Banks Violette studied at Columbia University and at the New York School of Visual Arts. His numerous exhibitions in recent years at many prestigious institutions have won him international visibility and renown. Particular noteworthy are his participation in the Whitney Biennale, his solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and his contribution to important exhibitions at the Migros Museum fuer Gegenwartskunst-Zurich, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Kunstmuseum of St. Gallen, the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, the Bergen Kunsthalle in Norway, and the Boijimans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. Banks Violette is also represented by Team Gallery (NY), Maureen Paley (London), and Thaddeus Ropac (Salzburg). He has works in different collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Through sculptures, drawings and installations in which darkness with elegance, Banks Violette examines a decidedly dark side of American culture. Sordid news stories featuring teenagers often form the basis for a reflection on our social landscape and the latent violence it engenders. He illustrates the symbolism of death and decadence one finds in Black Metal/Neo-Goth culture, a culture that oscillates between Beauty and Cruelty. This parallel culture, steeped in Heavy Metal and Gore Films, tainted with Satanism and impregnated with ‘aesthetic’ sophistication, expresses the malaise and crystallises the existential angst of some youth. This fascination for horror is nevertheless expressed very clinically. It is minimal, sanitised and elegant, using a set of specific materials, such as black lacquer, metallic structures, neon, salt resin, or shattered glass … His effective use of these two-tone (black or white) materials creates a kind of fascination that makes it possible for one to transcend the horror and the harshness of the actual subject to reach the sublime. Violette explains himself in these words: ‘(…) while I draw on moments that might be defined as excessive, I try to slow down this information, or tone down the immediate provocative dimension of the event. It seems interesting to me to try in this way to provoke, in the audience, a sympathetic or immediate response to an event that the audience would probably approach not only as everyday, but also through the grid of a whole set of profoundly anchored prejudices, governed by morality and good sense. That way, even if the root of the project is anchored in excess and extremism, the final presentation is not’. For this new exhibition, Banks Violette has produced two installations, distinct yet complimentary, that together give us an insight into his aesthetic. At the centre of the gallery stands an imposing minimalist structure, some seven metres long, a black screen composed of twelve beautifully lacquered panels that are fixed to a solid metal structure. This imposing installation might be considered a tribute to the American minimalist sculptor Fred Sandback, the subject of renewed interest today thanks to digitization. At the back of the gallery, the broken bits of an aluminium chandelier are scattered on the floor, its multiple splinters drowning in a carpet of salt. Modelled on an actual chandelier, each element was moulded and cast in aluminium, and then covered in salt crystals. This more poetic and disturbing piece seems to release an almost palpable ghostly presence, which proceeds to follow us around for the rest of our visit.