Michele Abeles, Alvaro Barrington, Pavel Büchler, Monster Chetwynd, Sky Hopinka, and Oliver Laric 

Water. Its form only knowable by way of other forms: surfaces, receptacles, landscapes. But really a law unto itself, stateless and forever transforming. Some of its transformations are legible, mundane even: from droplet to puddle, from puddle to sheet ice. Some so vast or distant or gradual that you can only suspend your disbelief as their consequences engulf us: the glaciers melt, the seas swell, the rivers rage. For humankind, water — as a force — has been feared, mythologised, understood, mastered, denied, and now, finally, provoked. The exhibition Tempest reflects on the physical and metaphysical transformations of water. To nourish, to flow, to force, to fall, bathe, consume, drown, and to re-emerge, renewed, in an ongoing cycle. Each of the artists in this exhibition negotiate with such transformative potentials.

At the entrance to the exhibition Monster Chetwynd’s large painted latex sculpture of an octopus is splayed out on the gallery floor. The wallpaper which acts as backdrop to this intelligent sea creature is an enlarged xerox of Katsushika Hokusai’s erotic scene Kinoe no komatsu 喜能会之故真通 (commonly known as The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife), a popular nineteenth century Shunga print depicting a woman entwined in embrace with a pair of octopi. As elsewhere in Chetwynd’s work, there is a desire for metamorphosis, to be other; in which the natural world becomes a channel for expression. Water here becomes an immersive sustaining force and mythic harbinger for imagination.

Syncretic interspecies representations recur in Oliver Laric’s Untitled animated film, in which Laric re-draws found footage of humans morphing into animals from hundreds of animated films. In a continuous loop, these shape-shifting characters blend swiftly and hypnotically to the rhythm of a contemplative orchestral score. This work is shown paired with a new 3D digitally printed sculpture, Hermanubis. Laric’s version of this psychopomp deity, half-man and half-jackal, is recomposed in a patchwork of different materials, suggestive of a broader interest in the hybridisation and instability of matter in the digital age.

Michele Abeles delights in the slippage of the image, torn between its pristine digital future and a past fast decaying and discolouring. Abeles’s Nymphaea series is based on the vacant imagery that populates waiting rooms. The banal, the cliché, and the knock-off are freely recombined with imagery from the artists’s own archive and output as seductive large format digital tapestries. The example shown here, reviving Monet’s Water Lilies, is displayed with Abeles’s small scale collages, titled after reptiles found in the swamps of Florida, and incorporating elements such as imitation crocodile skin, fragments of mirrors, and lost cameras.

Clouds appear, sensual and majestic, in the work of American artist Alvaro Barrington. Inspired by the transient states between water and air and J.M.W. Turner’s tempestuous seascapes such as The Slave Ship, 1840, Barrington mediates between subjective gesture, historical allusion and his own personal biography. Intuitively recording shifting skyscapes he witnessed from his home in London and reflecting on his journey from the United States to the UK, Barrington pays homage to the Atlantic crossing of his ancestors. Through these understated compositions, Barrington transforms everyday meteorology into biomorphic symbols, expressing the fluidity of cultural exchange and collective memory.

In the second gallery space, the exhibition continues with Lore, a film by Sky Hopinka, bringing forth ideas of reincarnation and cyclical return. A stream of fragmented images are assembled on an overhead projector, as a voice tells us of a not too distant past; a lore uttered in the present as a promise for the future. “Stories of oceans in the afterlife, or the spirit world in our own… This endless mixing and reconfiguring, overlapping of images (like waves).” These motifs reappear in a series of photographs with hand-inscribed words suggestive of an introspective journey through memories and landscapes.

Water is the purifying agent in the material transformations of Pavel Büchler’s Modern Paintings series. Found at flea markets and auctions, these works have their painted surfaces removed and their canvasses put through a washing machine cycle. Patches of paint, reversed back to front, are then reassembled in the manner of ‘crazy paving’ or abstract mosaics.

Culture is accelerating. As ice melts into water its constituent atoms get faster. More collisions occur between them. The ancient Greeks observed that panta rhei: everything flows. The artists in Tempest contemplate processes of change, growth and renewal in the everyday to the mythological, inviting collisions, as connections, between us and everything around us.

Water Aid will receive 10% of sales from the exhibition.

For more information about the works of Pavel Büchler, Oliver Laric, and Sky Hopinka, please contact Tanya Leighton at in-fo@tanyaleighton.com or +49 (0)30 21972220 or visit: www.tanyaleighton.com

For more information about the works Michele Abeles, Alvaro Barrington, and Monster Chetwynd, please contact Sadie Coles HQ at info@sadiecoles.com or +44 20 7493 8611 or visit: www.sadiecoles.com


In the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic, an informal group of contemporary galleries from around the world came together to discuss how to navigate through the new challenges of the global crisis as it affected our artists, staff and businesses. The relationships among us over weeks of exchange became close and essential and we discovered that while the pandemic had broken many things apart, it had also brought us together. A supportive sense of community ignited positivity and cooperative interactions, and the initial group of twelve grew to twenty-one. As an expression of this unity we initiated GALLERIES CURATE, a collaborative exhibition designed to express the dynamic dialogue between our individual programmes.

GALLERIES CURATE: RHE is the first chapter of this collaboration, an exhibition and website themed around a universal and, we hope, unifying subject: water. Like culture, water is never static but always in flux. Following the inaugural exhibition RHE, GALLERIES CURATE plan to invite new participants and add further curated chapters to a global conversation of thematic relationships between galleries, artists, and their audiences.


RHE (from Greek for that which flows) is a platform for exhibitions, performances, and public interventions that loosely address the theme of water—geographically, politically, economically or metaphorically. Involving projects with twenty-one galleries, both online and on-site, RHE was conceived to span regions, markets, cultures, and audiences around the world, circulating both within and outside of traditional white-box exhibition spaces.

RHEs first project will launch on January 4th, 2021, with an online presentation of works by Francis Alÿs, Giovanni Anselmo, and Latifa Echakhch, extending the exhibition A buoy if not a beacon, currently on view at Jan Mot in Brussels. Conceived during the spring lockdown, RHEs inaugural project explores the politics and poetics of water in relation to the perception of time.  Continuing in stages through May 2021, additional projects will be added by participating galleries each month. 

Participating artists (list in formation)

água de beber, Michele Abeles, Francis Alÿs, Giovanni Anselmo, Alvaro Barrington, Lothar Baumgarten, Pavel Büchler, Monster Chetwynd, Lai Chih Sheng, Petah Coyne, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Jan Dibbets, Jason Dodge, Latifa Echakhch, Ficre Ghebreyesus, Andy Goldsworthy, Sky Hopinka, Alfredo Jaar, Gabriel Kuri, Sean Landers, Oliver Laric, Charles Lim, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Arjan Martin, Adam McEwen, Cildo Meireles, Helen Mirra, Sarah Morris, Melvin Moti, Jean-Luc Moulène, Sahil Naik, Melik Ohanian, Pat O'Neill, Jaume Plensa, Pope.L, Aki Sasamoto, Jacolby Satterwhite, Carolee Schneemann, Kate Shepherd, Kwan Sheung Chi, Ko Sin Tung, Simon Starling, Fiona Tan, Michelle Stuart, Cosima Von Bonin, Wang Wei, Richard Wentworth. 

Participating Galleries

A Gentil Carioca (Rio de Janeiro)
Blum & Poe (Los Angeles, Tokyo, New York)
Sadie Coles HQ (London)
Chantal Crousel (Paris)
Experimenter (Kolkata)
Peter Freeman, Inc. (New York, Paris)
Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg, Cape Town, London)
Galerie Lelong & Co (New York)
kurimanzutto (Mexico City, New York)
Take Ninagawa (Tokyo)
Tanya Leighton (Berlin)
Edouard Malingue (Hong Kong, Shanghai)
Marfa’ (Beirut)
Meyer Riegger (Berlin, Karlsruhe)
Mitchell-Innes & Nash (New York)
Jan Mot (Brussels)
Galleria Franco Noero (Turin)
Petzel (New York)
ROH Projects (Jakarta)
Stevenson (Cape Town, Johannesburg, Amsterdam)
STPI (Singapore)

Why RHE?

RHE is evocative of unity and impermanence, both central concepts in Heraclitean philosophy, expressed most famously by his saying, panta rhei [everything flows]. Through water, we are all connected, physically as well as metaphorically.

In addition to hosting online exhibitions, RHEs digital platform will be a living archive of materials related to the works on view, offering a growing variety of texts and reference materials for each of the projects. As new materials are added, past and present projects will intermix—informing, counterbalancing, and recontextualizing each other and making a virtue of the broad dimension of the GALLERIES CURATE collaboration. 

Find out more about the Galleries Curate: RHE initiative and upcoming projects at galleriescurate.com

RHE is coordinated by Clément Delépine, independent curator, writer, and co-director of Paris Internationale. For more information on the initiative and upcoming projects, please contact clement@rhe.online.