Seoul—Pace is delighted to present the gallery’s first solo exhibition in Korea dedicated to the work of Yto Barrada. The exhibition will feature photographs, textile works and sculptures from Barrada’s multi-disciplinary practice which explore themes of modernism, abstraction, botany and urbanism. The exhibition will be on view at Pace, Itaewon-ro 262, Yongsan-gu from 3 September to 31 October 2018 and will coincide with Barrada’s participation in the 2018 Gwangju Biennale.
Barrada’s body of work is intrinsically imbued with politics, often subtly suggested by symbolic visuals and instilled by poetry rather than obvious written signs. Enigma, playfulness, irony and humour reinforce rather than soften the ways Barrada uncovers historical and political structures of domination.
A hallmark and recurring motif in Barrada’s oeuvre, the palm tree, both a co-opted landmark of exoticism and a pawn to be played in the game of urban planning, engages with ideas of renewal and decay. Blue Palm (2017–2018), a steel sculpture with coloured electrical bulbs representing the shape of a palm tree will be included in the exhibition. Barrada’s photographic series including Murs rouge au palmier (Red Walls with Palm), Tangier (2009) on view in the exhibition, depicts obsolete and disused modernist buildings obstructed by tall and vigorous palm trees. Barrada examines how a city and its people might approach the process of reinvention. An invitation to look at renewed and recomposed environments, Barrada disseminates ideas of utopia and defiance while questioning how physical and psychological boundaries frame people’s lives.
Further exhibition highlights include recent textile works which reference Frank Stella’s series of fluorescent paintings, inspired in part by Moroccan cities. Barrada’s textiles expand the set of references for these patterns and motifs, transposing the colors and forms of Stella’s paintings using dyes made in her studio from plants and insects. These new textile works are equally inspired by the Moroccan painters Mohamed Chebaa, Farid Belkahia, and Mohammed Melehi, founders of the Casablanca School in the 1960s, who paved the way for a North African modernism whose abstraction embraced the motifs and materials of popular, local art forms.
Concurrent with Pace’s exhibition, Barrada’s Agadir 1960 installation will be featured in the Imagined Nations / Modern Utopias section of the Gwangju Biennale curated by Clara Kim and staged from 7 September to 11 November 2018. Barrada’s presentation will comprise four different elements–mural drawings, a new film commission, furniture and collages–which will come together in a singular work to address the reconstruction of Agadir, Morocco, following a devastating earthquake in 1960. '1960 is a time of decolonisation and the resentments and ruins at the end of empire; the spreading fissures of the Cold War; the growing realisation that violence is one of the implacable vectors of modernity. Thus after the disaster, the question of how to rebuild and reinvent Agadir was a question of identity made concrete. […] Beneath all this we sense the warp and weft of the personal and political; the premonitions and regrets and hopes of a country on the verge of modernity.' Barrada said about the project.
Press release courtesy Pace Gallery.