REJEKT Gallery announces Hybrid Prophecy: a solo show of controversial Polish artist Kle Mens REJEKT Gallery
82a Commercial Street
14-23 June 2019
Thursday 13th June 2019, 6pm
REJEKT Gallery presents Hybrid Prophecy, a solo show of one of Poland's exceptional young artists, Kle Mens.The work will be exhibited at 82a Commercial Street, a former public toilet in London’s East End and is curated by Elaine Tam.
Kle Mens is a Warsaw-based visual artist working across painting, sculpture, performance and film. Following the death of her father, Kle Mens grew up in an extreme Catholic sect in Poland, under the care of her mother, schizophrenic, devotee nun. As such, a major tenet of her work is the exploration and exploitation of religious iconography, which calls forth a brave new world of the feminine in post-secular art practice.
The paintings at the heart of her practice involve a traditional technique, one which requires the painstaking application of a hundred translucent layers.Through this steady dedication we witness the transfiguration of Kle Mens as Saint, martyr and hybrid creature, which emphasises the transmutable nature of timeless mythical bodies.
Having exhibited in her native country multiple times, the controversial nature of Kle Men’s work means the artist has received a notable backlash from a more conservative Polish audience, including the staging of protests outside her exhibitions.
In her first UK solo show, Kle Mens makes a brave incantation, summoning both religious martyrs and mythological hybrids to evoke the formidable force of female transformation, which underlies all her work.This exhibition sees Kle Mens revisiting the idolatry of female purity of her youth through the martyr’s series, with focus on those whose punishment was sex-related or sexuality-specific.
In a relational gesture of self- sacrifice, paint becomes embodied flesh in St. Agata, the venerated saint a prime example of the extraordinary sufferance endured by female devotees. A tense and disarming dedication, Kle Mens’ severing of her own breast is a profound moment of ekstasis propelling her into the temporality of long- standing religious order, a remark upon the continued urgency of feminist concerns. With similar spirit, she investigates the unusual, always-timeliness of the apocalypse — the recurring crisis of individual, collective and planetary future that haunts existence.
In Hybrid Prophecy, Kle Mens presents us with this provocation: a stunningly detailed film work, which animates and subverts Hans Memling's The Last Judgement.The centrepiece around which the themes of the exhibition revolve, The Last Judgement sees her assuming new bodies and fictions, while persisting with the religious iconography that she is passionately indebted to. As such, two mythological hybrids that feature in the Apocalypse of St. John become proto-Renaissance self- portraits.
Kle Mens adopts the mystical poise of the famously ambiguous, riddling Sphinx. Her traditional painting technique begets a certain magic — one of majestic strength, and silent yet photorealistic liveness — which also courses through Harpy. While the eagle is emblematic of the Polish state, in the Apocalypse it behaves as a premonition, heralding a collapse between sky and earth.With this, Kle Mens continues her elegant foray into mythic territories, their power and their promise.
REJEKT Gallery founder Sarah Sosnierz says:
'Kle Mens collaboration of female religious Iconography and contemporary art is symbolic of a generation that is empowering woman in a culture that has stunted its growth for generations. REJEKT Gallery represents grassroots arts culture from a new generation of Eastern European artists, whom in their work are defining moments that will become key pillars of our contemporary history'.
For more information please contact:
Anna Beketov, Damson Communications at email@example.com or +44 (0)20 7812 0645.
Notes to editors:
About the artist:
Kle Mens (Klementyna Stepniewska, b. 1985) graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in 2014 under the direction of Jarosław Modzelewski and Igor Przybylski. In 2016, she was winner of the The Geppert Competition XII, the most prestigious prize for young painters in Poland.To date, she has had three solo exhibitions, the most recent of which is Hail Mary (2019). Her works St. Rita and Kummernis are held by a key public collection, National Museum of Gdansk.
About the Curator:
Elaine Tam is a Hong Kong-born curator, currently working in exhibitions at a London-based contemporary gallery. Her independent projects are characterised by collaboration with emerging artists and initiatives to create forums for critical engagement through exhibitions, talks and writing. Beyond this, she believes curatorial practice to be an open place for play, experimentation and enquiry. She is currently undertaking a Masters degree in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths University (2017-19). Her research interests include mythopoesis, regimes of femininity and encounters with radical Otherness.
About REJEKT Gallery:
REJEKT Gallery are representatives of future pioneers of contemporary art from Eastern Europe.They curate unprecedented, unconventional events for new East artists in London. REJEKT seeks to represent and garner respect of Eastern European artists.
Founder and Director, Sarah Sosnierz started promoting electronic music through hosting parties, aiming to collaborate various artists between London and Warsaw in the hope that this exchange would open new channels of cultural communication between East and Western Europe.
REJEKT do not conform to a traditional gallery setup.Their selection of unadulterated art is exhibited in unusual spaces, from industrial units to disused public toilets. Based in London, REJEKT has transitioned from illustrious clubs in Praga, flirting with underground dance club culture, to an arts platform occupying unique Heterotopian spaces; providing unconventional conduits; simultaneously mental and physical, geographical and digital representation.