UTA Artist Space is pleased to present From one shore to another, my name might not be the same, an exhibition of new paintings by French Malagasy artist Célia Rakotondrainy. Through her art, Rakotondrainy poetically depicts the concept that identity is constantly evolving and dynamically composed of layers that are added, transformed, destroyed, and reformed over time. This body of work is the result of over two and a half years of interdisciplinary collaboration between Rakotondrainy and three women artists, nurturing conversations surrounding complex identities and frustrations over binary perceptions of self.
Rakotondrainy, who now lives and works between Sao Miguel, Paris and Nosy Be, met the three collaborators – floral artist Carolin Ruggaber, photographer Izzy Dempsey and interdisciplinary artist and model Daniela Suleymanova – while studying in Berlin. To create the oil paintings in From one shore to another, my name might not be the same, Rakotondrainy began by digitally editing, manipulating, and deconstructing portraits of Suleymanova taken by Dempsey. For each image, Ruggaber created floral arrangements retracing Suleymanova’s origins and immigration journey in five countries. In the resulting paintings, the floral compositions superimposed over the body serve as identity markers, offering a prism through which the multidimensionality and multifacetedness of identity is not only revealed but also challenged, rejecting the notion that the self is fixed and immutable, rather fluid and ever-changing.
“I feel immensely fortunate to have been supported by an exceptional and devoted team, whose unwavering collaboration throughout this project has been truly remarkable. Witnessing this project come to life after over two years is nothing short of a dream come true,” says Rakotondrainy.
“I was first introduced to Célia by my dear friend Chela of Chela Mitchell Gallery. I was really impressed by her precision in painting. In addition to being an amazing artist, Célia is also such a kind and warm person. Having followed her career over the years, it’s exciting to now exhibit her work,” says Virgil “Tony” Parker, Sales Director, UTA Artist Space Atlanta.
“I love Célia’s unique approach to painting — she has created a distinct visual language that challenges notions around fixed identities, so the subject of her paintings and the works themselves are always in a state of becoming and ever-changing,” says Bridgette Baldo, Director, UTA Artist Space Atlanta.
Rakotondrainy’s exhibition, the second to take place in UTA Artist Space’s newly inaugurated gallery in Midtown Atlanta, is complemented by a large-scale flower installation by collaborator and floral artist Carolin Ruggaber. The site-specific work explodes from the center of the gallery, visually merging with Rakotondrainy’s work. Throughout the course of the exhibition, the floral arrangements will transform, marked by the passing of time. Multidisciplinary artist Daniela Suleymanova has also created a sound score to accompany the exhibition, a collage of ethereal sound fragments, including frequencies, poems, chorales, and ambient washes. Abstracted silk panel works by photographer Izzy Dempsey hang in the gallery’s stairwell, further welcoming visitors into the immersive space. Each of these elements comes together to form a moving meditation on the turmoil of finding the self in the noises and clamors of the world.
ABOUT CÉLIA RAKOTONDRAINY
Célia Rakotondrainy was born in Paris in 1994 and currently resides and works between São Miguel, Paris and Nosy Be. After completing her studies at Iéseg Paris, she decided to focus entirely on painting. While pursuing her passion for art, she also enrolled in the Art History program at Oxford through their distance learning program. In 2019, Rakotondrainy furthered her curatorial training at the University of the Arts in Berlin and the Freie Universität in the art market. Represented by Chela Mitchell Gallery, Rakotondrainy is a self-taught French artist with Malagasy origins. Rakotondrainy’s upbringing in a culturally diverse environment has inspired her to explore and understand the complexities of identity. Her paintings are a means of expressing emotions and exploring the idea that identity is a construction, similar to a work of art. Through her art she poetically depicts the concept that identity is constantly evolving and dynamically composed of layers that are added, transformed, destroyed, and reformed over time. She believes that this ever-changing process of construction makes it impossible to grasp a universal definition of identity. She has exhibited globally, in cities including Paris, Miami, Washington DC, Barcelona, Cologne, and more.
ABOUT IZZY DEMPSEY
Izzy Dempsey (b. Halifax, Nova Scotia), based in Berlin, specializes in lifestyle portraiture and commercial photography.
ABOUT CAROLIN RUGGABER
Carolin Ruggaber (b. Rottweil, Germany) is a floral artist who lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Carolin is known for floral design and concept driven installations using natural resources of any kind.
ABOUT DANIELA SULEYMANOVA
Multidisciplinary artist Daniela Suleymanova (b. Taldom, Russia) currently lives and works between Berlin, Germany and Antananarivo, Madagascar.
ABOUT UTA ARTIST SPACE
Since the establishment of its flagship Beverly Hills location in 2018, UTA Artist Space has been committed to showcasing art by globally recognized talent. With the opening of an Atlanta location in spring 2023, UTA Artist Space expands its impressive vision and reach across the United States. The original location has presented notable exhibitions with interdisciplinary artists and creatives, including Enrique Martinez Celaya, Mandy El-Sayegh, Conrad Egyir, The Estate of Ernie Barnes, Essence Harden, Ferrari Sheppard, and Ai Weiwei, among others.
ABOUT CHELA MITCHELL GALLERY
Chela Mitchell Gallery, located in Washington, D.C., is a contemporary art space rooted in community cultivation, the richness of culture, and the amplification of unique voices in fine art and design.
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Image: Célia Rakotondrainy photographed by Jonathan Jerome Prisset. Courtesy of the Artist.