Robin Rhode is best known for his photography and animation documenting ephemeral works and performances in public spaces. His early works typically took the form of simple paintings or chalk drawings executed on pavements or walls, which served as sets for choreography by the artist. These might be thought of as a hybrid of drawing, performance and urban photography. They set the stage for Rhode’s practice, which is marked by its use of ‘at hand’ materials to create highly inventive and affecting art works.
In recent animations, Rhode has placed a greater emphasis on formal elements, often working with a reductive approach to composition and introducing abstract forms into the works. For Promenade 2008, experiments in geometric abstraction and visual music in the early twentieth century have served as an important point of departure, especially Hans Richter’s film Symphonie Diagonale 1924. Promenade is strongly related to a work commissioned by New York’s Lincoln Center, for which Rhode produced a visual sequence to accompany a performance by pianist Leif Ove Andsnes of Modest Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’. In Rhode’s animation, a solitary figure appears to conjure prismatic forms, which in turn create an abstract visual representation of Mussorgsky’s programmatic composition. A playful tension is created between the protagonist and his creations, leaving the viewer unsure of who is in control and raising questions about the nature of artistic practice.