Born in 1961 in Birmingham, UK, Donald Rodney first achieved visibility as part of The Blk Art Group in the early 1980s. During that decade, he went on to become a key figure within the broad alliance of artists, which came to be known as The Black Art Movement.
Rodney illustrated his versatility utilizing a range of mediums from painting, installation and photography to robotics, film and digital yet often defying simple categorisation, both thematically and through the innovative approach to materials and technical processes. He chose to incorporate his medical condition of sickle cell anemia, an illness he had been living with his whole life. He used this as a metaphor for black emasculation, racial stereotyping and wider socio-political concerns in contemporary society. On March 1998, Rodney died from sickle-cell anemia, aged 36. His artistic career had spanned two decades and produced some of the most engaging and innovative work by a British artist of his generation.
Iniva has played a key role in the recognition of Rodney’s work, publishing AUTOICON in 2000, a dynamic internet work that simulates both the physical presence and elements of his creative personality, as well as hosting ‘Donald Rodney In Retrospect‘ in 2008, which brought together a number of Rodney’s seminal works dating from the late 1980s to his final solo exhibition in 1997, ‘9 Night in Eldorado’. Iniva participated in London Art Fair 2018 with a selection of works on paper by Rodney, including some never before seen in public.
Rodney had 6 solo exhibitions stemming from 1985-1997. He also showed and participated in numerous other exhibitions and residencies across this period. In 1996, he was awarded the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Sculpture and Installation. Rodney’s last solo exhibition, dedicated to the memory of his father, ‘9 Night in Eldorado’ opened at the South London Gallery in 1997.
In 2016, ‘Reimaging Donald Rodney’ took place at Vivid Projects, Birmingham. It expanded on the potential of Rodney’s archive as a resource for challenging our conceptions of cultural, physical and social identity.