Provocative exhibition from Rosemarie Trockel both haunting and unnerving
Drawings, collages and book drafts makes for powerful show
This provocative exhibition of Rosemarie Trockel’s works on paper is at once haunting and unnerving; the German artist’s handling of dark and sometimes uncomfortable subject matter successfully challenging the viewer through the blurring of reality and the subconscious.
In a collaboration with Kunstmuseum Basel and Kunstmuseum Bonn, more than 200 pieces of work are displayed throughout the rooms of the Talbot Rice gallery. Central to the exhibition is a collection of Trockel’s book drafts, displayed behind glass and presented almost as items of curiosity to the viewer – an intriguing set of multiples offering a glimpse into the artist’s ideas but their contents hidden. The subject matter explored on the covers recurs in works throughout the exhibition: the placement of text and image, sinister and sometimes grotesque animal hybrids and the mutation of different species and genders into ambiguous and frequently disturbing images.
Trockel’s drawings and mixed-media collages – often dark, explicit pieces of work that deal with subject matter such as decaying, decrepit human bodies and the recurring motif of masked faces – play around not only with the traditions of art exhibition but also the viewer’s perceptions of what is real. Her collages, incorporating different media, are almost sculptural in form, and respond to what sometimes feel like her more experimental drawings.
This powerful show successfully engages the viewer not only in its raw confrontation of subject matter such as sexuality and gender, but also in how it makes us question our expectations of materials, space and process as well as the traditions of exhibiting artworks.
Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 30 Apr