Artist: Nika Neelova
Exhibition title: EVER
Venue: The Tetley, Leeds, UK
Date: June 21 – September 8, 2019
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and The Tetley, Leeds
Note: Exhibition guide can be found here
EVER is Nika Neelova’s first solo exhibition in a public gallery in the UK, presenting new and existing work by the Russian-born artist. This ambitious sculptural exhibition responds to, and is in dialogue with, the building’s unique art deco architecture.
Often utilising reclaimed architectural materials, Neelova is interested in the way materials and architecture influence our sense of time and place. Her sculptures are created by employing tactics of ‘reverse archaeology’ – considering an alternative reading of human history by examining found objects and architectural debris, and transforming them beyond functionality. In these works the human body and touch remains as a vestigial memory.
EVER brings together many of Nika Neelova’s sculptures for the first time. At the centre of the exhibition is a new large-scale sculptural installation in The Tetley’s atrium. Connecting with the building’s past, it recalls the restoration and transformation of the atrium into a gallery space and incorporates original materials such as parquet floor tiles and oak panelling salvaged
from The Tetley building. Featuring these discarded architectural fragments, the installation creates a transitional space depicting, and derived from, places that once existed. For Neelova, it takes the form of a ‘landscape in ruin’, presenting different layers of reworked and reimagined architectural, sculptural and geological artefacts.
In addition to this ambitious new installation, EVER also features a number of existing geological and architectural sculptures, including Neelova’s Lemniscate sculpture series made from wooden bannisters reclaimed from old English houses awaiting demolition. The bannisters, which once acted as the meeting point between human body and architecture are repurposed and fitted together so that they each form an infinite loop. Also presented are Neelova’s Folded Room sculptures, foldable steel structures that replicate the perimeter of the artist’s studio, and Stratigraphies, a series of works that replicate the geological process of sedimentation with layers of studio residue and dust fixed in jesmonite.
EVER is supported by Arts Council England. With special thanks to David Roberts Art Foundation and Robert Govearts.