Kendell Geers

Employing a wide range of references — from the realms of history of art, pornography, iconography and kitsch — Kendell Geers questions artistic value and mocks the notion of originality. His work reveals razor-sharp humour that plays with the viewer’s repulsion and ridicules racial or religious stereotypes.

Kendell Geers was born in South Africa and now lives and works in Brussels. At the 1993 Venice Biennale he officially changed his date of birth to May 1968, a momentous year in world history for human liberation and equality. Geers creates work that aims to disrupt commonly accepted moral codes and principles. Laden with complex and deep political implications, it is challenging and confrontational. At the same time, Geers’ minimalist aesthetics generate a subtle poetic undertone. His use of language, ready-mades, neon, glass, icons, film, chevron tape and other objects confront the viewer head on. They often startle the eye and require a degree of interrogation from the spectator. 

Geers’ work was exhibited in the 2022 Setouchi Triennial, and in the 2021 Bruges and Kortrijk Triennials in Belgium. ‘Love, By Any Means Necessary’, the sixth solo exhibition for the artist at Stephen Friedman Gallery, opened in February 2020. A major retrospective of his work curated by Okwui Enwezor was held at Haus der Kunst, Munich in 2013. He participated in Documenta 14 in 2017 and Documenta 11 in 2002 in Kassel, Germany. Geers’ work was included in the Venice Biennale in 2019, 2007 and 1993.

The artist has had solo exhibitions at Rua Red, Dublin, Ireland (2019); UnTubo, Siena, Italy (2014); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2013); La Maison Particulière, Brussels, Belgium (2013); Chateau Blandy-les-Tours, Melun, Paris, France (2012); CIAP, Hasselt, Belgium (2011); Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA (2009); Oficina Para Proyectos de Arte, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico (2008); BPS22 Space for Contemporary Creation, Charleroi, Belgium (2007); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio and Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado (2005); Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome, Italy (2004); Centre Departemental d’Art Contemporain, Albi, France (2004); Castello di Ama per l’Arte Contemporanea Lecchi, Siena, Italy (2003); Centre for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu Project Gallery, Fukuoka, Japan (2003); Migros Museum of Contemporary Art, Zürich, Switzerland (2003); Grand salle, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2003); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2002); Delfina Project Space, London, England (2001); Württembergischer Kunstverein and Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany (2001); Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria (2000); Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2000); Inova, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin (2000);Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession, Vienna, Austria (1999); South African National Art Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (1999); Fort Klapperkop, Pretoria, South Africa (1998); ArtPace, San Antonio, Texas (1998); Gallery in the Round, Grahamstown, South Africa (1998); Vleeshal Center for Contemporary Art, Middelburg, The Netherlands (1997); Villa Arson, Nice, France (1995); Michaelis Art Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (1994); and University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (1988).  

His exhibition ‘Irrespectiv’ toured from Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK; Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, Lyon, France; Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto, Trento, Italy; and DA2 Domus Artium 2002, Salamanca, Spain (2007–2009).  

Geers’ works are held in the permanent collections of public institutions including: Centre Pompidou, Paris; MAXXI, Rome; Magasin III Museum & Foundation for Contemporary Art, Stockholm; Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago and ArtPace, Austin.

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