Kaikai Kiki Gallery is proud to present Rainbow Bridge, a solo exhibition of works by American artist Wendy White. In Norse mythology, the rainbow bridge is a passage between Earth and the realm of the gods. For this exhibition, the bridge is a metaphor for athletic expression and artistic creation.
Like artists, athletes train in solitude for countless hours in order to perform what is often a split-second act of improvisation— moments either seized or wasted. Those moments are as much fleeting glimpses as they are concrete ideas. Athletes often talk of a near unconscious state, or “the zone,” in which they are able to perform almost without thinking. In an artist’s studio, this state is like the moment of liftoff for a ski jumper; both tangible and intangible; at once an impossible feat and an absolute necessity.
The artist attempts to capture this effect in works like Elan (Sara Takanashi), 2015, which depicts the champion skier in mid-flight—a moment of pure expression. Conversely, in Fischer (Ernest Yahin), the athlete is mid-wipeout, thus memorializing a spectacular moment of failure, which is also an essential part of training and learning.
In a series of three multiple-canvas portraits of racecar drivers from the 1970s and 80s, the athletes are set off by neon, rainbow-like bands, a testament to their tenacity and the rarity of women in a macho, male-dominated arena. Glossy black corner rainbows span the space between canvases, creating a visual and physical connection between moments captured by photography.
197 Madison, 2012, is based in part on the writings of Michel de Certeau, in which he describes walking in the city as an invisible, poetic layer of footpaths. The work combines a photograph of a New York City bodega sign with graffiti-inspired marks and quasi-legible text, celebrating the city’s visual layers, both organic and imposed.
American Dirt Effect, 2017, a free-form wall installation made from deconstructed men’s denim jeans, is a meditation on American symbolism— something rough and durable transformed into a celestial starscape. In other jeans works on canvas, the material is a stand-in for both landscape and directional brushstroke. Pollock-like splatters are a nod to canonized gestures as well as natural wear and tear, and the inclusion of colorful bands, or skies, offers an atmospheric juxtaposition to what is a particularly American version of nostalgia. Rainbow Bridge comprises a selection of works from White’s Fotobild, Multiple-canvas, Portraits, and Jeans series (2012 to 2018) curated by Takashi Murakami, as well as four new works that will be exhibited for the first time in Tokyo. We invite you to experience the vibrant worldview of Wendy White through her first solo show at Kaikai Kiki Gallery.
A message from the artist I’m not an artist who makes the same painting over and over. I can’t. Instead I try to push forward, ruthlessly, testing the boundaries of the medium.I am honored that Takashi Murakami not only understood that impulse, but championed it by selecting a diverse yet coherent body of work from my archive to present. Sometimes it takes someone else’s eye to see new connections, and I’m very grateful to have that in this instance.Rainbow Bridge began as a smaller show. When we expanded the scope to include older works, the concept expanded with it, coming to represent not only a bridge between works but also a journey in itself. I tend to respond to personal and cultural impulses in my work in real time. My interest in athletics as pure human expression, symbols of optimism as metaphors for emotional states, and the rainbow itself as a mutable, intangible entity are amplified by this uncertain time in American history. I find myself looking backwards and forwards at the same time, hoping we stick the landing.—Wendy White