Exhibitions

I will go away into the wild wood, and never come home again
Xavier Robles de Medina

Expanding from the highly detailed monochrome paintings and drawings that the artist is best known for, the exhibition will also include new sculptures and text-based works and a reading area curated by Queer Street Press in response to Robles de Medina’s research.

Exhibition I will go away into the wild wood, and never come home again
Artists Xavier Robles de Medina
Date 01.09.23 - 08.10.23
Venue Alice Amati, London
All images Courtesy of the artist, Catinca Tabacaru Gallery and Alice Amati. Photo: Tom Carter.

In the Grimm Brothers’ tale, Snow White declares: “I will go away into the wild wood, and never come home again” as she is forced to venture into the wilderness to escape certain death. The term ‘wild wood’ holds both literal and metaphorical meanings, representing the unknown and standing in direct contrast to the concept of one’s home. The tension between leaving safety behind and never returning home echoes diasporic experiences, and the artist’s personal journey of moving away from his homeland of Suriname. Robles de Medina uses this phrase as the title of the exhibition, inviting viewers to ponder the connection between the protagonist’s statement, the artist’s own journey, and the historical context around the time in which the story was written in 1812.

During the early 19th century, the Global South was still grappling with European colonisation, whilst debates surrounding the ethics of slavery intensified in Western Europe. Considering this historical backdrop, the artist questions whose voice the sentence “I will go away into the wild wood, and never come home again” truly represents— those forced to leave home as a result of war, imperialistic conquest, or enslavement, or perhaps the European explorers venturing into uncharted territories in pursuit of conquest?

In Robles de Medina’s practice textual and visual research constantly overlap, resulting in rigorous and layered works that blend the micro with the macro, the personal with the generic, and the contemporary with the historic. Each carefully chosen image that the artist appropriates and translates into paintings, drawings and reliefs is at once connected to his own history and identity, and to a broader collective memory of global events. The process of collecting source images is somehow intuitive for the artist, who, once attracted by specific images, spends as much time contemplating their broader implications and interconnectedness as he does crafting them into their new form and context.

For this exhibition, Robles de Medina appropriates images from an animated film, a newspaper article, photographs found online and from a personal archive. Poetic and emblematic, these works exist at the bifurcation between the literal and the metaphorical, demanding us to see beyond what is represented and to read further than words to come to understand the nuances of meaning within what is in front of us.

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