<h1>Roger Hiorns</h1>
<h1>Roger Hiorns</h1>
<h1>Roger Hiorns</h1>

Roger Hiorns (born 1975 in Birmingham, UK) is a leading representative of the young generation of international artists. In 2009, he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize for his powerful installation Seizure, in which he covered the walls of a London flat in copper sulfate crystals, thus earning himself the moniker of “alchemist”. His current exhibition in Prague includes not only sculptural installations that combine industrial objects with the element of fire and young nudes in various poses, but also a military airplane engine and a church altar that have been ground to dust. The new installation Beings consists of roughly 200 mutants – objects made of plastic parts from old cars that levitate in groups and ominously spew foam. Hiorns is constantly working with the visitor’s emotions, but his works’ ideological exploration of the dark side of progress and the self-centeredness of Western civilization has gradually gained in importance. His art is highly ambivalent, with an increasing focus on the gap between what we see on the surface and what we learn about the exhibited works’ origin or background. Hiorns the alchemist thus becomes the enfant terrible of an all-too-comfortable society. We can reject his works for making us feel “uncomfortable” just as well as we can love them for yearning for the truth.

Whereas the earlier generation of “Young British Artists” has been creating works that promise a visual spectacle in terms of size, choice of materials, and references or citations that are both shocking and easily understood, Hiorns works in a different spirit: He creates literary narratives that are both layered and expansive, with the works’ individual elements emerging in a provocatively ambiguous manner. This ambiguity resists a reductionist interpretation, is not easily described, and is not satisfied with the first level of meaning or symbolism that presents itself. Hiorns represents a generation that has been strongly influenced by conceptual approaches but that is also more engaged in taking a stand against the changing nature of authority and power structures in today’s Euro-American civilization, including the related societal schisms.

Within the broader cultural context, the stories Hiorns tells about our civilization could be compared to the films of German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982), whose social criticism is based on an engaged, candid and unrelenting documentary-style exploration of the traumas, prejudices and superficiality of Western society (e.g., Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?, In a Year of Thirteen Moons, Germany in Autumn). Like Fassbinder, Hiorns records and turns over the surface of things and phenomena in an attempt at learning the truth about contemporary society, which is often uncomfortable and incompatible with our usual idea of art as a medium for experiencing something beautiful and uplifting. A similar project on the domestic art scene is the novel Mondschein (2012) by writer Ondřej Štindl and painter Josef Bolf, which moves from the documentary genre and a description of real life to the realm of science fiction, although the story is set locally and resonates with the contemporary theme of the loss of integrity (for both the individual and society) and the lost belief in shared social values. In Mondschein, clinging to personal judgment and to a mistrust of one’s surroundings offer a way of escaping into the real world by revealing the true state of things and by breaking through the shell forced on us by society and convention. The book shares with Hiorns’s installations a post-apocalyptic aesthetic, a desire to reveal the conflict between the seen and unseen, and above all the individual’s act of saying “no”.

Works of art created with this motivation express a yearning for a better world without dogmatically claiming to be the one and only truth. Such art aims to question the truth presented to us by science, politics, the modern lifestyle sold to us by advertising, and the art market. As Hiorns likes to say, “I am an artist who makes art, and not art about art”. In his works, Hiorns does not hesitate to use such highly antithetical elements as sacral vs. industrial or eternal youth vs. total destruction.”Sacred, institutional, industrial, carnal, ritual, biological, religious, diseased, technical, cerebral, communal, hygienic. If these terms seem incompatible, they are nevertheless invaluable in describing the combination of themes that operate throughout the work of Roger Hiorns. The artist presents us with a bleak, uneasy landscape that, while seemingly dislocated from the modern world, nevertheless operates in and through its objects, materials and systems. It is a world of technically modified matter – detergent foam bubbles produced by compressors; cold sheets of latex rubber; pure alcohol burning in cotton wool; mechanical parts ground to dust; the brain tissues of animals smeared on fibreglass; semen wiped over the surface of light bulbs…“ This and other interpretations of Hiorns’s works can be found in the catalogue text written for the exhibition by British art critic and editor of ArtReview magazine J. J. Charlesworth.

In recent years, Galerie Rudolfinum has increasingly focused on the contemporary British art scene through both solo exhibitions (Jake and Dinos Chapman, Damien Hirst, Raqib Shaw) as well as group shows (Model, Beyond Reality: British Painting Today, Nightfall). If we consider these shows in relation to other previous exhibitions, they are no longer isolated looks at the British scene, but represent a systematic effort at describing not only the mutual contexts in which British artists exist, but also their relationship with artists in the Czech Republic and other European countries. The solo exhibition by Roger Hiorns is thus more than just a look at a distinctive representative of the young generation of British artists; it is a logical continuation of the gallery’s exhibition program. The exhibition and catalogue are a joint project by Galerie Rudolfinum and Kunsthaus CentrePasquArt in Biel, Switzerland, and the expanded Prague version is Hiorns’s largest solo exhibition to date.

Roger Hiorns studied art at Goldsmiths, University of London. His work has been exhibited at numerous important group exhibitions in Europe and the United Sates, including the 2013 Venice Biennale, the Tate Modern in London, the MoMA Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, New York, the Armand Hammer Museum of Art at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Hiorns has held solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Wien and The Hepworth Wakefield in Great Britain (2014), De Hallen Haarlem in the Netherlands (2012-2013) and the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) in Great Britain (2012).

We would like to thank for their support: 
Felicity Lunn, director of the Kunsthaus CentrePasquArt in Biel/Switzerland, and Tomasso Corvi-Mora of the Corvi-Mora Gallery in London
Jiří Růžička a Miroslav Pešek, Gymnázium Jana Keplera, Praha

 

Curator: David Korecký

Roger Hiorns v Galerii Rudolfinum | documentary

Every day except Mo & Thu 10.00–18.00

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