The Call of Walls


To the National Gallery of Victoria last week to see the Monet exhibition. Got there half an hour after opening, and exhibition already packed. Whizzed through in 10 minutes which was time enough to get a sob in my throat (why?) on seeing his Houses of Parliament across the room, and to remember I prefer the early landscape paintings to the later waterlilies. Also remembered a painting that wasn’t in the exhibition, The Regatta at Argenteuil, the first oil painting I tried aged 12, and saw again the little man clutching his hat in the wind at Étretat in a painting that was.

And then, as often happens at the NGV when the “blockbuster” exhibition is on, I discovered another exhibition that entranced me. This is Robin Rhode’s The Call of Walls. Rhode was born in Cape Town in 1976 and moved to Johannesburg when he was little. He moved to Berlin in 2002, but comes back to Johannesburg when he hears the call of walls.

The wall is sometimes black, sometimes white, and after creating a picture on it using paint or chalk or charcoal, he interacts with the pictures to create tableaux of the effects and after-effects of apartheid. The images below from my iPhone feature sequences from three series.

In the first series, Blackness blooms, the Afro comb grows a bloom and then suddenly becomes a prison; in the second, Bones, a man contorts to fit the shape of chance; in the third, Carry-on, a man hauls in pieces of meaning.

The exhibition is brilliant. See it for yourself. You can also visit the NGV website for further images of his work, or tweet your impressions using #RobinRhode.

Click on any of the following images to enlarge and watch slideshow.



18 thoughts on “The Call of Walls

  1. Excellent Narelle. I had not heard of Robin Rhodes either. I loved the concept of “contorting to fit the shape of chance”. What is chance? It is different for all of us, and most pass it by. Funny thing. I was looking through some old notebooks from my teaching days, and found a lecture I gave on guerilla art and artists. Some of these fit the bill. Love, Kayti


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