Spreading its waters over the marble city!

Lena Henke

Spreading its waters over the marble city!, 2020

The ceramic’s series is part of a group of works, the point of departure of which was the artist’s visit to Lisbon last year. Inspired by the architecture and the history of the Lisbon Aguas Livres Aquaduct, a remarkable example of 18th-century engineering and a major source of Lisbon’s water supply, the aqueduct here stands as a symbol of modernization, urban development, flow of water, but also of birth, and the energy involved in water’s transformation, as suggested by the title of the exhibition.

The work of Henke is characteristic for its formal ambiguity. Resembling the aqueduct’s architecture, the plinths also echo the formal nature of large archways, explored throughout Henke’s current practice. As materialized in her ceramic sculptures, the horse hoof’s motive, placed on top of the aqueduct-inspired pedestal, is a defining element in her work. Enthused by her childhood (Henke grew up next to a horse farm), the horse hoof’s subject becomes a symbol of desire and fetishism, creating associations with Freud’s Psychoanalysis theory.

Lena Henke has exhibited at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Germany (2019); Whitney Museum of Art, New York, (2018); Bard Hessel Museum, New York, (2018); Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland, (2018); Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt em Main, Germanny, (2017); Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, USA, (2017); Timisoara Contemporary Art Biennale, Romania, (2017); S.A.L.T.S., Basel, Switzerland, (2016), Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany, (2016); Manifesta 11, Zurich, (2016); The 9th; Berlin Biennale, Berlin, Germany (2016); Le Biennale de MONTREAL, Montreal, Canada, (2016); Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany (2016); Triennale of Small Scale Sculpture, Fellbach, Germany (2016); The New Museums Triennial, New Museum, New York, (2015); Socrates Sculpture Park, New York, (2015); New Museum, New York (2015); Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland (2014); White Flag Projects, St. Louis, USA, (2014); Sculpture Museum Glaskasten, Marl, Germany, (2014); Kuenstlerhaus Graz, Graz, Austria (2014); Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, USA, (2013); Kunstverein Aachen, Germany (2012), among other. In 2019 Henke received the RUBENSFÖRDERPREIS der Stadt SIEGEN and the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen held a survey exhibition of Lena Henke’s work, summarizing the past ten years of her practice. In the same year, Henke was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant.