September 23 > October 18, 2016
MACRO Testaccio
Padiglione 9B
Promoted by Roma Capitale, Assessorato alla Crescita culturale - Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali, con il supporto della Bohen Foundation

Sponsor Sistema Musei in Comune

In Collaboration with MasterCard Priceless Rome

Media Partner Il Messaggero

Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Roma presents paintings by Rachel Howard, the artist’s largest exhibition in Italy to date, made possible thanks to the generous support of the Bohen Foundation. Housed in the main space of the museum’s Testaccio building, a former slaughterhouse, Paintings of Violence (Why I am not a mere Christian) is an installation of ten paintings and one sculpture. Here Howard continues her examination of religion, mortality and violence, specifically ‘controlled violence’, meticulously planned and calmly executed. The title is taken from two opposing polemics, Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

Over a period of five years from 2011-2016 Howard has slowly developed these ten paintings, the dimensions of each mirroring the artist’s height and arm span. A T-square, its form reminiscent of a disproportioned crucifix, steadies the artist’s hand as rich blood-red paint is dragged downwards, staining the luminous pink surface dark crimson. This process is then repeated; placing, slicing, swiping and wiping. Finally, towels used to wipe the T-square, are folded and placed on the plinth, as evidence of the aftermath. 'The essence of this work’ as Thomas Krens of The Guggenheim Foundation describes ‘is performance: painting as dance, movement, intellectual rigor and extreme economy in the application of an intense, repetitive, layered, disciplined and infinite gestural difference.’

Howard describes Paintings of Violence (Why I am not a mere Christian) as ‘…not about a bacchanalian violence, but the steady calm hand of violence on a greater scale. Maximum damage, planned and calmly carried out; hence the slow slice through the alizarin crimson oil paint, exposing the fluorescent beneath, raw and defenceless, the repetition of canvas after canvas, the same but different.’ She refers to the acts of violence planned on a scale that overwhelms; these acts of terror, these threats to the stability of everyday life, have something in common. They are different but also, in many ways, the same.

More of Howard’s new and recent paintings that explore pattern and the grid, are exhibited in galleries either side of the main space. These paintings explore the idiosyncratic qualities of oil paint, unpicking the accepted rules of engagement with this most traditional of mediums. In the large-scale canvases, Symptoms and Side Effects, (2016) and Wood for Trees, (2016) an interchange between background and foreground is specifically explored. She describes her aim, ‘to bring the decorative forward, to give it a life of its own, to play with pattern as perhaps reflecting a mental interior as well as a literal interior’. These paintings alongside the grid paintings explore ideas of order and entropy.

The Paintings of Violence will travel to MASS MoCA, Massachusetts, US in 2017. Recent solo exhibitions include; At Sea, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (2015); Northern Echo, Blain|Southern, London (2014); Folie à Deux, Blain|Southern, London (2011); Repetition is Truth, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina, Naples (2011); Still Life / Still Here, Rachel Howard, New Paintings, Sala Pelaires, Palma de Mallorca (2011); Human Shrapnel – oil drawings on paper, Other Criteria, London (2010); Der Wald, Haunch of Venison, Zurich (2009); Rachel Howard: invited by Philippa van Loon, Museum van Loon, Amsterdam (2008); How to Disappear Completely, Haunch of Venison, London (2008); and Rachel Howard – New Paintings, Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles (2007); Tightrope, Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art, Ohio (2002) and Painting 2001, Anne Faggionato, London (2001). Recent group exhibitions include; Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick, Somerset House, London (2016); Summer Exhibition 2016, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2016); Settle Opere per la Misericordia, 4th edition, curated by Mario Codognato, Pio Monte della Misericordia, Naples (2016); Sleepless, Beds in History and Contemporary Art, 21er Haus, Vienna (2015); Invitation to a Beheading, curated by Rachel Howard, Marianne Boesky, New York (2013); Freedom Not Genius, curated by Elena Geuna, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin (2012) touring to Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, (2013).

Howard’s work can be found in a variety of public and private collections, amongst others; Ackland Art Museum, North Carolina; Museum van Loon, Amsterdam; David Roberts Foundation, London; Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas; Olbricht Collection, Berlin and the Murderme and Hiscox collections, London. The artist lives and works in London.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 10am to 8pm. Saturday from 10am to 10pm.
Free admission

MACRO is in Rome, in the Salario-Nomentano area, on via Nizza 138.
The museum can also be accessed from via Reggio Emilia 54.