In his expansive practice, Andro Wekua shifts adeptly between painting, sculpture, installation, and film. Fragmentation and ambiguity are central to the artist’s work, which unfolds with suspense and cinematic structure. Allowing for a multiplicity of interpretations, Wekua’s psychologically charged practice probes the complexity of memory and personal history.
Wekua was born in Sukhumi, Georgia, and his biography is intertwined with the larger political upheaval caused by the decline of the USSR. The violence that punctuated the artist’s early childhood resurfaces obliquely in his work. In his 2011 exhibition Pink Wave Hunter, held at the Benaki Museum in Athens, Wekua explored the gulf between history and memory through a sculptural recreation of his hometown. Though once a thriving tourist destination, Sukhumi was largely abandoned after the civil war broke out in 1992. The installation features mixed-media replicas of Sukhumi’s buildings, which Wekua created based on his own memories, assisted by images he could find online. The buildings’ unfinished areas stand-in for fissures in time, or what Wekua calls “memory gaps.” At once prosaic and haunting, the installation expertly crafts a tension that may be all too familiar for those who have experienced exile or migration. In the words of writer and artist Luc Sante, a “nagging silence” can be felt throughout Wekua’s work, as the past demands acknowledgment.
Wekua’s sculptures exemplify his understanding of materials and form while establishing his symbolic vocabulary. In an interview with Boris Groys, Wekua describes his mannequin-like sculptures as “act[ing] out what disturbs me.” Visceral yet lifeless, the mannequins frequently appear androgynous, evoking equally mythic and futuristic narratives. Testament to the uncanny power of images and objects, Wekua’s work pushes viewers to embrace the interpretive possibilities of association and experience.
As an artist-in-residence in 2021, Andro Wekua is focusing on a new body of paintings and works on paper.