Rachel de Joode has made a style out of flattening textured and three-dimensional images into a smooth 2D surface, images that contradict themselves and trick the eye from every angle. With Soft Inquiry, her solo exhibition at New York’s Kansas gallery, de Joode takes this process to a new level, selecting “depictions and abstractions of basic and primordial materials such as clay… rocks and the occasional dash of algae” to create isolated images of boiling mud and swathes of skin that hang suspended somewhere between sculpture and image, somewhere between the physical world and the virtual one.
The images, organically shaped and coloured, appear exceedingly touchable, but “closer study reveals an even, smooth surface” behind the seeming tactility. They begin to divorce from their physical, material selves, becoming—through an “accordion-like process, beginning in full form, compressing, and finally extending into a state imbued with previous iterations” —entities in themselves, representative of something other than that which they were made to represent.
“The tenets of classical sculpture are observed through a process of creating poetic gestures.” Hands emerge from the sides of images to smear relations, body parts are isolated and cast in bronze, assuming a grandeur beyond themselves—it is all part of, as the press release states, “[t]he representation of objects, the consciousness of matter and the exposed and secret nature of things. **