Robin Rhode (b. 1976, Cape Town, South Africa) was raised in Johannesburg and graduated from the South Africa School of Film, Television and Dramatic Arts, Johannesburg, in 2000. The Berlin-based multidisciplinary artist engages a variety of visual languages such as photography, performance, drawing and sculpture to create arrestingly beautiful narratives that are brought to life using quotidian materials such as soap, charcoal, chalk and paint. Coming of age in a newly post-apartheid South Africa, Rhode was exposed to new forms of creative expression motivated by the spirit of the individual rather than dictated by a political or social agenda.
The growing influence of hip-hop, film, and popular sports on youth culture as well as the community’s reliance on storytelling in the form of colorful murals encouraged the development of Rhode’s hybrid street-based aesthetic. His strategic interventions transform urban landscapes into imaginary worlds, compressing space and time, as two-dimensional renderings become the subject of three-dimensional interactions by a sole protagonist, usually played by the artist or by an actor inhabiting the role of artist. Melding individual expressionism with broader socio-economic concerns, Rhode’s work reveals a mastery of illusion, a rich range of historical and contemporary references, and an innate skill for blending high and low art forms.
Given his first major museum solo show by Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany, in 2007, Robin has since had major solo exhibitions at a number of important museums around the world, including the Hayward Gallery, London (2008); The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2009), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California (2010), and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (2013).
He has participated in notable group exhibitions, such as the 2012 Sydney Biennale; Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960, MoMA, New York, and Framed, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana (both 2011); SITE Santa Fe Biennale and The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, MoMA, New York (both 2010); the 51st Venice Biennale (2005); and New Photography, MoMA, New York (2005). His work can be found in numerous public collections, including the Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa; Miami Art Museum, Florida; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. The artist lives and works in Berlin, Germany.