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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Andro Wekua

b. 1977, Georgia

Andro Wekua is a Georgian artist working with film, photography, collage, painting, sculpture and installation. Recognised for his life-size, lifelike figurative sculptures and architectural models that combine personal and collective memories, Wekua provides his viewers with a poignant yet fragmented return to the past.

Repeated motifs or fragments are common in Wekua's works. Among his most iconic motifs is the adolescent-looking girl who often appears in the company of a black wolf. In the 2017 sculptural installation Wolf with Girl, the girl's features are barely discernible; the wolf—cast in bronze with black patina—appears to nudge at the girl's aluminium shoulder or potentially is holding her back. By contrast, the two untitled wolf-and-girl installations that Wekua presented at Sprüth Magers London in 2014 show the figures as cast-wax mannequins with lifelike features. In one, the youth rides the wolf; in the other, she stands by herself, eyes closed, resting her face on a suspended device that resembles a playground swing. The relationship behind the unlikely pair, however, remains unresolved as Wekua is reluctant to accord narrative to his works.

For his collages on paper, the artist works with materials from diverse sources such as personal photographs of friends, as well as images found on the internet, or in magazines and anonymous photo albums. Once the collages are completed, Wekua sends them to a screenprinter to have them enlarged and printed on canvas or aluminium. Finally, he makes figurative paintings on top of the printed collages. Lying, Walking, Swimming (2005), for example, is a combination of photographic elements and painted triangular shapes against a black background. On the left, Wekua has covered an image of a domestic interior using colour pencil and felt pen; on the right, a giant woman—her arms painted in neon pink—towers over a dolphin, a naked girl and a reclining female nude. However, Wekua's figurative paintings are not meant to be portraits of specific individuals or specific events, but rather portrayals of a universal experience. In his interview with Wallpaper*, Wekua stated that he titles his works last as he feels names give rise to meaning. When his works leave his studio, he becomes a stranger to them as much as his viewers are upon initial contact. Despite the deeply narrative quality of his works, Wekua prefers to withdraw himself from his subjects and to treat completed works as autonomous objects.

Similarly conveying Wekua's interest in personal and collective memories are his repeated references to his hometown of Sokhumi. Sokhumi—a Georgian city at the time of Wekua's birth in 1977—became embroiled in a territory dispute between Georgia and Abkhazia in the 1990s. The artist's political activist father was assassinated by Abkhaz nationalists in 1989, and later his family was forced to leave the city. From 2010, Wekua began using photographs of Sokhumi sourced from the internet and from fellow exiles to create 'Pink Wave Hunter', a series of 15 architectural models based on the buildings in his hometown. The reconstructed models, however, are not faithful replicas of their originals; what Wekua could not remember or recreate from the photographs, he left blank. For instance, one building has only a façade, leaving the empty space to serve as a metaphor for the gaps that memories from individuals and the internet could not close. Memory, Wekua implies, is collective, and the past cannot be reconstructed in its entirety.

Wekua studied at National Art School, Sokhumi, and Visual Art School Basel, graduating in 1991 and 1999 respectively. He has since then exhibited in numerous galleries, notably Kunsthalle Zürich (2018); Sprüth Magers Berlin (2018); Gladstone Gallery, New York (2012); Saatchi Gallery, London (2011); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2010); and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010). His participation in international exhibitions includes the Venice Biennale (2011); Gwangju Biennale (2010); and the 55th Carnegie International (2008).

Wekua lives and works in Berlin.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

All is Fair in Dreams and War by Andro Wekua contemporary artwork Andro WekuaAll is Fair in Dreams and War, 2018 Single channel projection, colour, 5 mins 5 secs
Sprüth Magers
Yellow Hold, Portrait by Andro Wekua contemporary artwork Andro WekuaYellow Hold, Portrait, 2018 Oil paint and silkscreen ink on aluminium panel
142 x 202 cm (incl frame)
Sprüth Magers
Portrait Wave Holder by Andro Wekua contemporary artwork Andro WekuaPortrait Wave Holder, 2018 Oil paint, silkscreen ink and varnish on aluminium panel
102 x 72 cm (incl frame)
Sprüth Magers
Untitled by Andro Wekua contemporary artwork Andro WekuaUntitled, 2017 Oil and pastel on canvas
45.4 x 33 x 3.8 cm
Hauser & Wirth
A. Portrait, Chrome/Blue by Andro Wekua contemporary artwork Andro WekuaA. Portrait, Chrome/Blue, 2017 Oil and silkscreen ink on aluminium panel
100 x 70 cm
Sprüth Magers
Levan Portrait by Andro Wekua contemporary artwork Andro WekuaLevan Portrait, 2017 Oil and silkscreen ink on aluminium panel
100 x 70 cm
Sprüth Magers
W. Portrait by Andro Wekua contemporary artwork Andro WekuaW. Portrait, 2016 Oil paint, oil stick, felt pen, silkscreen ink and varnish on aluminium panel
100 x 70 cm
Sprüth Magers

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Andro Wekua, All is Fair in Dreams and War at Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Closed
1 February–6 April 2019 Andro Wekua All is Fair in Dreams and War Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Spiegelgasse (Mirror Alley) at Hauser & Wirth, London
Closed
18 May–28 July 2018 Group Exhibition Spiegelgasse (Mirror Alley) Hauser & Wirth, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Andro Wekua, Andro Wekua at Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Closed
28 April–8 September 2018 Andro Wekua Andro Wekua Sprüth Magers, Berlin

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Berlin’s Gallery Weekend: Body Conscious Ocula Report Berlin’s Gallery Weekend: Body Conscious 4 May 2018 : Mitch Speed for Ocula

What do you need, in order to arrange a perfect storm of an artistic encounter, like Gallery Weekend Berlin (27–29 April 2018)? Galleries and a weekend, that much is obvious; but it's the next question that gets me. How does this Gallery Weekend differ from the other 50-odd weekends when art is exhibited throughout the year, in any given place?The...

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The Lowdown: shows to see during Gallery Weekend Berlin Ocula Report The Lowdown: shows to see during Gallery Weekend Berlin 20 Apr 2018 : Phoebe Blatton for Ocula

Gallery Weekend Berlin is a long-established highlight in the German art world's calendar. This year, the fourteenth edition takes place from 27 to 29 April, and features no less than 47 participating galleries showcasing emerging talent alongside established names. With many other exhibitions and events taking place across one of Europe's most...

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In Related Press

Peripatetic Georgian artist Andro Wekua on work, war and wandering Related Press Peripatetic Georgian artist Andro Wekua on work, war and wandering Wallpaper* : 17 April 2018

Andro Wekua's Berlin studio is located on a curve of the River Spree near the Tiergarten park. This used to be quite a backwater, but escalating property prices and proximity to the river have turned it into prime real estate turf. The studio is in the remains of an old red brick building, a surviving wing of a larger industrial complex, surrounded...

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