Over the course of five decades, Canadian artist Rodney Graham (1949 – 2022) expanded his diverse practice to encompass photography, painting, sculpture, film, video and music. A true polymath, Graham seamlessly inhabited different personae, genres and art forms throughout his unparalleled career. ‘It may be a burden to reinvent oneself every time,’ Graham said, ‘but it makes things more interesting.’ Shifting across mediums, Graham examined the complexities of Western culture with wit and authenticity, revealing a myriad of insights into social and historical structures.
In celebration of Graham’s multifaceted artistic vision, Hauser & Wirth Somerset is honoured to present ‘Rodney Graham. Getting it Together in the Country’. The artist was developing the exhibition prior to his passing in October 2022, with the title also taking its name from Graham’s 2000 LP featuring improvised guitar recordings. Music was a vital and constant theme in Graham’s life, including live performances at many Hauser & Wirth occasions, such as the 2014 inauguration festivities in Somerset. In dialogue with the rural gallery setting, the exhibition will open with Graham’s major late body of work, ‘The Four Seasons’, created between 2011 and 2013. The landmark lightbox series evolved organically and is dedicated to nature’s cycle through meticulously staged mis-en-scènes, reflecting a moment of pause and desire to step out of the daily grind.
In Graham’s photographic work, each image is a fictional self-portrait, with the artist in costume but always recognizable, portraying a vast array of characters. From the props and their placement within the frame, to the elaborate costumes and stage sets, each scene – either in his Vancouver studio or in public facilities around the city – is purposefully constructed and executed with an exceptional degree of technical expertise and humor.