For Jason Rhoades, the car was a vehicle of artistic pursuit, both readymade sculpture and American idol. Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles dedicates an entire gallery at its Downtown Arts District location to a yearlong exploration of Rhoades’ art via the subject of cars and car culture. ‘DRIVE,’ will unfold over a series of thematic iterations, an ever-changing exhibition of Rhoades’ sculptures, drawings, videos and multiples—enriched by archival materials, public programs and contemporary perspectives.
‘DRIVE’ opens with The Parking Space, featuring a Chevrolet Caprice and Impala, a Ferrari 328 GTS and a Ligier microcar, parked in the gallery alongside a video in which Rhoades fervidly discourses on his concept of the Car Projects.
While driving around Los Angeles in 1998, Rhoades explains the relationship of cars to his art (parking is equated with sitting in a sculpture) and to daily practice (driving between the house, the studio and stores is time and space for the mind to race and wander). He expounds on cars as icons of art history (Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia speeded modern art forward with their mechanized abstractions), identifiers of class (you are what you drive) and environments of control. The radio is tuned to Power 106 FM and as the world streams by to the propulsive hip-hop beat, the romance of cars seems irresistible.
In April, the installation will be reconfigured to accommodate a lounge and become The Pit. An influx of archival materials will be key to unpacking the various episodes of Rhoades’ Car Projects, starting with the Caprice and the 1996 exhibition ‘Traffic.’ Not only did the artist cut a deal with CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France the organizers of the show, to go in on buying him the car as a transactional work of art, he later leveraged its symbolic value by trading the Caprice for a Ferrari.
This summer the exhibition’s focus will swerve onto The Racetrack. A set of half-scale NASCAR-style cars, custom jackets and colorfully painted tire barriers are among what remains of ‘The Snowball.’ Staged in California as a daylong racing event at Willow Springs speedway, ‘The Snowball’ was ultimately destined for the 2000 Venice Biennale and Rhoades’ collaborative work for the Danish Pavilion.
In September, The Garage will cover the final stretch of ‘DRIVE’ with a selection of framed works on paper and a major sculptural installation.
Known for his art’s driving imagination and ambition, as well as its reckless provocation and overwhelming materiality, Rhoades was a world builder for whom the making of sculptures and the creation of narratives were intertwined. His epic-scaled installations established him as a force of the international art world in the 1990s while based in Los Angeles, where driving is as much a part of daily life as being stuck in traffic. Rhoades grew up engine adept, fixing and driving motorbikes, cars, trucks and other vehicles in rural Northern California. Rhoades studied with Richard Jackson and Paul McCarthy at UCLA, where he earned his MFA in 1993. It was with characteristic pragmatism and brash ludicrousness that he conducted his final lap of art school performing heats in a tiny red Formula One kit car on a miniature racetrack that he constructed out of cardboard.
CRASH: A Film Series Curated by Elvis Mitchell for ‘Jason Rhoades. DRIVE’
The first in a series of public exhibition programs, ‘CRASH’ is a car-centered film series curated by the film critic and writer Elvis Mitchell that takes place over five consecutive Wednesdays, March 13 to April 10, 2024, and is free to the public. Films will be shown in the exhibition gallery with viewers seated amongst the cars that Rhoades considered readymade works of art.
In the summer of 1998, Jason Rhoades parked a burgundy Chevrolet Impala SS on the plaza of the Kunsthaus Zurich, where it represented his participation in a group show and performed in a number of ways: It was an outdoor sculpture, a museum for the collection of 'minor works by major artists', and it was, at the end of the day, also a car.
Jason Rhoades (1965 – 2006) was a visionary artist and world builder for whom sculpture and myth were intertwined forms of construction. His epic assemblage installations established him as a force of the international art world in the 1990s, while based in Los Angeles. America was his art’s imaginative subject,...
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