14 Nov 2015 - 16 Jan 2016
Sybren Renema is drawn to the obscure corners of all forms of human discourse, with a particular liking for art, history, geographical exploration and the natural sciences. These different fascinations are often combined in the same work, highlighting a predilection for unconventional forms of knowledge-production as well as a sense of the absurd and the grotesque. His interests are addressed through various media, such as photography, collage and neon.
The exhibition of Sybren Renema derives its title from the last sentence of ‘Kubla Khan’, a poem by the 19th century British Lake Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was infamous for his use of opium and his sprawling public lectures. Coleridge can be considered as one of the first cultural critics, but was nevertheless notoriously inconsistent in his output. The exhibition borrows freely from Romantic tropes and clichés such as nature, substance use and the sublime and mixes these into a heady concoction.
Central to the exhibition is a sculpture titled ‘Study for the death mask of an average Romantic’. It has been generated from the measurements of the death masks of 32 artists from the Romantic age and has subsequently been 3D-printed. Devoid of any individuality, yet made up of those people whose individuality was their greatest revolutionary potential, it is equal parts worship and mockery. The work touches on the question of what it is to be a creative genius, but also displays the perverse power of technology in the face of something as sacred as death and eternity.
The Milk of Paradise by Sybren Renema is kindly supported by Creative Scotland and Glasgow Life.
Click to read ‘Objects of Narrative’, a specially commissioned conversation between Sybren Renema and Brian H. Murray
Reviews and features
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