Kris Lemsalu’s 4LIFE, her first solo exhibition in London, presents newly commissioned works that manifest the stages of life; from birth to death, and ‘the bit in the middle’.
Lemsalu’s practice is a continual evolution of ideas, forms, anecdotes and personal histories, expressed through sculpture and performance, in which the division between life and art is blurred. In the 4LIFE cycle Lemsalu combines collected and crafted objects to create totemic sculptures in a visual narrative that gives shape to the formlessness of lived experience. Staged in evocative environments, talismanic figures populate Lemsalu’s hallucinogenic world, one that hovers between birth and mortality. The question lingers; are we seduced or repulsed, or both? Across three rooms the human body is metamorphosed; it’s sometimes amputated and re-assembled as a fantastical multi-limbed creature, or recently absented leaving behind shrugged-off shells of clothing. Each insists on being read through its affective quality and a dense symbolism that is born of both a highly personal cosmology and an engagement with universal themes. They suggest both a grotesque laugh and an existential shudder.
Through a ritualistic and bricolaged materiality, Lemsalu poses earnest questions about hierarchies of beauty and revulsion, merit and mediocrity. Exquisitely crafted cast ceramics and hand stitched textiles sit alongside found clothing and machine-made commodities. The latter are just as precious as the former in their capacity to combine to create worlds that are one remove from our own, but instantly recognisable. Her ceramic process is instinctive yet elaborate; some pieces go through four firings, and for this exhibition she employed Japanese anagama, an ancient wood fuelled firing technique in which a fine layer of ash dusts the ceramic.
Moving from birth, in HOLY HELL O, through Sally, Go Round the Roses and finally to Biker, Bride, Builder, Businesswoman and Baby, the exhibition traverses our passage through life; a plunge into existence, a centrifuge of bristling energy, and final dissolution.
A special performance by artist and musician Kyp Malone will take place at the opening, on 22 Nov 7-9pm.
A limited edition has been commissioned on the occasion of the exhibition, for more information click here.
Kris Lemsalu was born in 1985 in Tallinn, Estonia, and lives and works between Vienna and Tallin. She creates mixed-media sculptures, installations and performances with unexpected materials. Lemsalu’s pieces evoke the bestial side of human beings and civilizations, and are often underscored by feminist themes. Lemsalu has shown as part of Performa 17 (2017), DRAF performance night (2017), Bunshitu Gallery, Tokyo (2015), Ferdinand Bauman Gallery, Prague (2015) and is represented by Koppe Astner, Glasgow and Temnikova & Kasela, Tallinn. Lemsalu will represent Estonia at the Venice Biennale 2019.
The Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center and Estonia 100 as part of the Republic of Estonia Centenary celebrations.
Austrian Cultural Forum
Temnikova & Kasela
- Kris Lemsalu, 4LIFE, 2018. Courtesy the artist. Photo © Edith Karlson.
- Installation view, Biker, Bride, Builder, Buisnesswoman and Baby, 2018. Courtesy the artist. Commissioned by Goldsmiths CCA. Photo © Mark Blower.
- Installation view, Sally, Go Round the Roses, 2018. Courtesy the artist. Commissioned by Goldsmiths CCA. Photo © Mark Blower.