In this new column we hope to introduce you to some of the lesser-known, or under-appreciated, artists and artworks in London today.

I first encountered the art of Robin Rhode as a fresher, on my first trip down to the Hayward Gallery in October 2008. The South African artist had a solo show. We were both new to London.

Rhode typically uses the pavement or a wall as his backdrop; he then creates scenes using chalks, props and his own body. He photographs sequences, to create a flip book style progression of images.

I was immediately drawn to his photographs because of their playfulness and wit. For example in one such series we see him doing a somersault in the air before slam-dunking a basketball, in another he plays a solo game of pool, on an upside down table. I also found beauty and poignancy in some of his more abstract works, such as Rough Cut and his short animation Harvest.

…this mysterious figure dancing, interacting with the chalk images as if by magic.

Rhode’s artistic roots are in performance art and this aspect lives on in the narrative element of his work. But as with a flip book, our mind fills in the gaps and we imagine this mysterious figure dancing in front of a bare wall, interacting with the chalk images as if by magic.

Amusing and captivating as his works might be, what I really love about Robin Rhode’s art is its optimism. The grimy backdrops and simplistic chalk aesthetic are reminiscent of street art. Rhode has been quoted as saying: “Sometimes if you have nothing, you actually have everything.” And this seems to me to be the noble ethos behind his work.

Robin Rhode’s most recent exhibition is currently showing at White Cube: Hoxton Square.

Image courtesy of Robin Rhode


About The Author

I recently graduated from UCL with a degree in History of Art. I hope to make a career in Arts Journalism and MouthLondon seemed like a great place to start! Get in touch if you'd like to write for the Arts section.

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