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Paul Maheke

Vanille Bleue

15 April - 26 May 2021

Paul Maheke

"My neck stiffened. Probably in remembrance of these past few months, it's the terror letting me know that it hasn’t left my body yet.I often wonder what love does that the rest doesn’t? In terms of hurt, in terms of joy, in terms of what we allow ourselves to be or not. The jumping through the hoops and the release coming with the New Moon bearing with her a renewed sense of hope.

As I fall in love I also grieve, because falling can feel like digging and because love can feel like a form of death" (diary entry, 2021)

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The Mauve Hour II, 2021

UV Print on Transparent Acrylic 

 60  x 40cm / 23.6  x 15.7 in

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Vanille Bleue is a new body of work by Maheke, drawing on journal entries made since July 2020 during lockdown in Paris. Part diary, part non fiction, Maheke’s journal is brought into the exhibition to drive the artist’s reflections on vulnerability through drawing, text and sound. In particular, Maheke’s use of drawing in the exhibition represents a continued shift in the artist’s practice beyond primarily performance-based work.

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The light was casting images of random narratives that some attributed to him, 2021

Ferric chloride on copper

50 x 100  cm / 19.6 x 39.4 in,

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The title of the exhibition refers to a type of vanilla indigenous to L’Île de la Reunion, once home to Maheke’s parents. Similar to the works on display, the exhibition’s title offers viewers a context both poetic and political in nature. Maheke cites writers such as Audre Lorde and Édouard Glissant for their use of poetry to “play on one of the most oppressive structures we have - language.” Similarly, by incorporating text into the exhibition Maheke offers an additional voice for his works to communicate various meanings.

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A Tidal Puddle of Sweat, 2021

Ferric chloride on copper

40 x 30  cm / 15.7 x 11.8 in.

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Much of those meanings are rooted in Maheke’s interest in the invisible, and sometimes very concrete forces that affect our bodies as well as our identities and how we experience ourselves. These forces comprise everything from the political and social understanding of our history, to more mystical and spiritual understandings, as well as the sonic and physical forces such as gravity that surround us.

Beyond words, the materials used in the show are critical to conveying these ideas. Copper plates, for instance, serve as the surface for a series of colourful images formed through an oxidation process involving liver of sulphur. The unique properties of the copper, which allow for the work’s image to form, extend to its therapeutic qualities used in alternative medicine as well as its ability to conduct electricity and heat. Light and sound are critical too in exploring ideas central to Maheke’s work.

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Ibis, 2021

Ferric chloride on copper

100 x 50 cm / 39.4 x 19.7 in,

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A Tidal Panic, 2021

Ferric chloride on copper

40 x 30  cm / 15.7 x 11.8 in.

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Redreaming the dream, 2021

Oxidised copper, 3D laser etched drawing in acrylic glass

55 x 40 x 23 cm /  21.6 x  15.7 x 9 in

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A Flesh Without The Memory Of Its Wound: The After , 2021

Sound loop, paint and wicker lanterns

Variable dimensions

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A Flesh Without The Memory Of Its Wound: The After , 2021

Sound loop, paint and wicker lanterns

Variable dimensions

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Similar to the presence of copper, deep bass frequencies played throughout the exhibition hold healing potential. Given the ability of sound frequencies to change the molecular structure of water, it is possible for that to extend to our bodies which are made up of 85% water.

For Maheke, the embodied quality of both the sound and text component speaks to themes of trauma and in turn healing.

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NO, 2021
Digital drawing printed on paper and handblown glass lamp

180 x 165 cm / 70.8 x 65 in

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"The idea of conveying a narrative around violence and an act of violence over another body, knowing that those audiences will come to the space with a certain set of histories that are personal to them as well as their own cultural references, I think I’m interested in how sound can also bring an element of communication through an interaction with other bodies. [It’s] something interesting in the context of Covid, as well as my own context producing this show from a distance. It’s my way of reaching out to establish a form of touch, in a way.”

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The Mauve Hour III (Soleil Rouge), 2021

UV Print on Transparent Acrylic

79 x 120 cm /  31.1 x 47.2 in

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Portrait of a Ghost III, 2021

UV Print on Transparent Acrylic

50  x 70 cm / 19.7  x 27.5 in

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The Mauve Hour I, 2021

UV Print on Transparent Acrylic

53 x 80 cm / 20.8 x 31.5  in

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Portrait of a Ghost II, 2021

UV Print on Transparent Acrylic

100 x 66 cm / 19.7 x 27.5 in

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As Chiron, an Orb and the Horizon, 2021

UV Print on Transparent Acrylic

53 x 80 cm / 20.8 x 31.5 in

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As Saturn And Jupiter Conjunct, 2021

Four digital prints on fabric

Work (each): 285 x 100 cm / 112 x 39.3 in.

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Vanille Bleue II, 2021

Digital drawing printed on paper and handblown glass lamp

253 x 200 cm / 99.6 x 78.7 in

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Vanille Bleue I, 2021

Digital drawing printed on paper and handblown glass lamp

164 x 200 cm / 64.5 x 78.7 in

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Vanille Bleue III, 2021

Digital drawing printed on paper

118 x 150 cm / 46.4 x 59 in

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Vanille Bleue IV, 2021

Digital drawing printed on paper

250 x 223 cm / 98.4 x 87.8 in

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More about the artist

 

Maheke is considered one of the most exciting young artists of his generation, cementing this with his breakthrough exhibition at the Chisenhale Gallery in London in 2018. This was followed by a solo exhibition at Vleeshal Middelburg (2019), and I Lost Track of the Swarm at the South London Gallery (2016).

 

Selected group exhibitions include “Le centre ne peut tenir” at Lafayette Anticipations in Paris (2018), “Ten Days Six Nights” at Tate Modern in London (2017), and the Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017).

 

Maheke will be included in British Art Show in 2021 - the UK’s leading quinquennial survey of emerging artists.

Download press release here