AboutThe Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie is widely regarded as one of the most exciting painters of his generation. Using found imagery and carefully constructed tableaux his seductive yet challenging figurative paintings explore complex ideas about history, memory and political and cultural extremism. For his first exhibition in London since 2009, Ghenie has marshaled an extraordinary array of references. His new works bring together figures including Charles Darwin, Josef Mengele, and Francis Bacon and subjects such as the English landscape tradition, eugenics and nuclear testing, in order to address complex ideas about the morality of scientific research, the possibilities of portraiture and the nature of evil.
Taken together Ghenie's paintings in the exhibition constitute an interconnected and extended meditation on the nature of evil and mankind's propensity to subvert good for bad. In the artists' words, âI am interested in the presence of evil, or more precisely how the possibility for evil is found in every endeavor, even in those scientific projects which set out to benefit mankind.' In the exhibition these ideas are explored by connecting Darwin's work on Natural Selection to the Nazi quest for Aryan perfection, our animal nature, eugenics, breeding and the English aristocracy, and the terrible legacy of nuclear research.
The exhibition contains a group of new paintings alongside a large-scale collage installation made directly onto the walls of the gallery and new stencil portraits. The paintings include portraits of Darwin, Ceasescu and Mengele, images of dogs and monkeys, and two large works depicting a nuclear test and the wreck of a German bomber lying in an English landscape.
This will be the first exhibition in the newly renovated 6 Haunch of Venison Yard, the gallery's original home. For the last year Ghenie has been resident in London and his new work is in part a response to the city and its history. As such it will form a very appropriate opening exhibition for a building which is itself a historic eighteenth century townhouse reconfigured as a twenty-first century art gallery.