Bad Colour Combos – Yto Barrada

Bad Colour Combos – Yto Barrada

Bad Colour Combos is a solo exhibition that offers a comprehensive overview of the recent work of the artist Yto Barrada. The exhibition features a range of media including film, textiles, photography, and sculpture. The show brings together a selection of Barrada’s work from the past five years, alongside new pieces that have been specially created for the exhibition.

Yto Barrada, Untitled (cosmos yellow), 2021, silk, dyes from plant extracts. ©Yto Barrada, courtesy Pace Gallery and Sfeir Semler Gallery Beirut Hamburg. Photo Damian Griffiths

Throughout the exhibition, Barrada explores a wide range of cultural phenomena, personal histories, and natural processes. The work on display highlights the artist’s multifaceted approach to creating art that encompasses a broad range of themes and topics. This is Barrada’s first solo exhibition in the Netherlands, and it features previously unseen, multidisciplinary work.

One of the key themes explored in Bad Colour Combos is the relationship between time and cultural phenomena. In recent years, Barrada has developed a series of works that examine the acceleration and deceleration of time, motherhood, the history of education, play, the artisanry of natural dyes and color as material, traditions of modernism, and our futile attempts to control nature.

Barrada’s work often refers to international modernism, in an attempt to destabilize a western interpretation of art and to examine the local issues of globalization. For example, in the After Stella series, the artist references a specific moment in the history of abstract painting: the colour field paintings produced by the American artist Frank Stella in the mid-1960s. Stella drew his inspiration from his travels in Morocco and titled paintings after Moroccan cities. Alongside Stella, Barrada also invokes Mohamed Chebaa, Farid Belkahia, and Mohammed Melehi, painters affiliated with the Casablanca School in the 1960 who pioneered North African modernism in their abstract paintings.

Installation view Yto Barrada, Bad Color Combos. Photo Peter Tijhuis

The exhibition also features three of Barrada’s most important films in 8 and 16 mm: Tree Identification for Beginners (2017), The Power of Two or Three Suns (2020), and Continental Drift (2022). The Power of Two or Three Suns was shot in an industrial testing laboratory where a variety of materials and products are subjected to artificially simulated natural forces to assess their durability. The exposure of colours to the power of the (artificial) sun acts as a metaphor for the passage of time, for aging and decay, and for the impact of climate change and the ecological crisis.

Alongside her sociopolitical concerns, Yto Barrada’s artistic practice is grounded in the idea of community, artistic kinship, and collaboration with friends and family. The artist explores her interest in play, education, and experimentation in a gallery where, alongside her own work, she showcases that of female artists of three generations: Elodie Pong (b. 1968), Bettina (Bettina Grossman, 1927-2021), as well as new work co-created with her 8-year-old daughter, Tamo. The exhibition highlights the importance of community in the creation of art and emphasizes the potential for collaboration and collective creation.

Installation view Yto Barrada, Bad Color Combos. Photo by Peter Tijhuis


Bad Colour Combos

Location: Kunsthalle Bielefeld

Duration: 25 Mar – 30 July 2023



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