An antique make-up cabinet is wide open in front of us and showing, reflected in its mirror, an elegant and undressed figure putting mascara on. Wearing only a pearl necklace and two gemmed rings, while a woman standing next to her side is comforting two tiger pups, the main character of this painting is radiating beauty and sureness and is surrounded by her precious-looking belongings: dollhouses, toys, fruits and cakes which cover the counter in front of her and the floor – these objects themselves are then surrounded by tiny naked figures, playing and touching each other, erotic and innocent at once. Nude and undisturbed by our gaze, the centre and focus of this tableau vivant is a pig.
There could probably be no better introduction to the world that Bologna based Chinese artist Shafei Xia represents with her art and that is presented with I Am Still Me for the first time ever to the Nordic public. A world which is grounded first and foremost on a sense of humour, comicality and playfulness which would be reductive to define as idiosyncratic. It is a realm of the absurd, where animals and humans are interchangeable and where symbology and reality mix so deeply that there is no point in trying to understand where reality and intimate personal narration start, and jokes and the absurd begin. It is like being invited to peek into private fantasies and dreams, and not any kind of dreams and fantasies, but the dreams of a young Chinese who likes to fantasise about traditional fairy tales and their symbolism, who is funny and witty, sexy and self-ironical. Her main technique itself opens to create an aura of magic around these works: mounted on thick cotton canvas, these drawings are watercolours on extremely thin and beautifully textured sandal paper produced in collaboration with a Bolognese artisanal studio specialised in the restoration of ancient paintings and art.(1) This technique, in pair with her ceramic sculptures, have the peculiar effect of historicising her images, making them look like traditional drawings from another time, and this adds to the fascinating subject matter of her images themselves. Anthropomorphised tigers, pigs, fishes(2) are juxtaposed to doll-looking human beings, smaller scale figures (reminiscent of the differently-sized figures in Ancient Egyptian imaginary) and countless objects. It is a whole new realm, the one that Xia creates, populated by symbols, quotes and witty jokes, using figures of speech and symbols as a language so intimately cryptic and explicitly readable at once that it would give a complete new meaning to Umberto Eco’s lines: “omnis mundi creatura / quasi liber et pictura / nobis est in speculum.”(3)
It is an allegorical paroxysm, and once one gets accustomed to its peculiarities, to the delicate and awkward ways in which it shows us our own fears and intimate desires, vices and strengths, it is impossible to un-see how this process is happening only through the candid humour and irony Shafei Xia is able to have. It is with unique grace that she helps us see ourselves while eventually presenting us with herself, naked and honest, in her own jokes and dreams, frailties and pride, just shallowly hidden behind her tigers and pigs, fruits and dolls. And while a good sense of humour makes funny paintings and nothing more, what we find in I Am Still Me(4) is more personal and unique than that, it is the precious possibility of sharing and telling a very personal story through humour, as “true humour is to be able to laugh at oneself, which not only is a humorous view of life, it is also a humorous view of humour itself.”(5)
(1) The drawings are realised on sandal paper and then carefully glued and fixed irreversibly on canvas with an extremely delicate process which has no margins of failure.
(2) All meaningful animals in Chinese tradition and constantly recurring throughout all of Shafei Xia’s art.
(3) “all the creatures of the world / as a book and a picture / are to us a mirror”. Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, 1980.
(4) An exhibition title reflecting on the fear the artist has of losing her true self in the deeds and demands of a professional artistic career and her recent success as an artist.
(5) “真正的幽默是能反躬自笑的，它不但對于人生是幽默的看法，它對于幽默本身也是幽默的看法。”錢鐘書，《寫在人生邊上》(1941)。Zhongshu Qian, Written in the Margins of Life, 1941. (our translation)
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For CHART 2023, NEVVEN presents a solo booth by Barcelona based Colombian artist Giorgio Celin, presenting a selection of new oils on canvas which in his elegant and exuberant signature style, allow the viewers into what quickly reveals itself as a very intimate autobiographical experience. Joyful, contemplative, emotional, and funny, in this simple presentation of same-sized paintings, Celin surpasses himself in variety, not only allowing himself “to celebrate the beauty, the queerness and the complexity of the latinx-diaspora”(1), but to invite the viewers to almost experience and feel it with him, in his dances and tears, days and nights.
NEVVEN is proud to present all dreams, all stone, a group show featuring new works by Warsaw based Belarusian artist Lera Dubitskaya, Italian artist Letizia Lucchetti, Swedish artist Emelie Sandström, and two works from the archive of legendary Japanese photographer Toshio Shibata. With Dubitskaya, Lucchetti and Shibata at their first ever exhibition in Sweden, and inspired by a poem by American poet Eileen Myles (Dream, 2013), the show aims to present four extremely distant practices, mediums, artists and formats. Grounded on stark juxtapositions, both physical and metaphysical, all dreams, all stone invites the viewer to delve into the eerie and captivating, funny and serious, colourful and austere works these four artists present us with.
Close to the
my dream the
I saw a brown
sign with wisdom
I saw a brown
fringe of a mirror
leaning over a pond
wood which materials do you
does your wisdom prefer
partment in a summer
I felt brave to
her love the screen
door and the dogs
and the cats always
getting out. That
was the fear
fading but recalling
they had faded like words
fade in stone because
of the rain and the days
and waking and the dream
is leaving with every
step leaning over the meat
because I do not want
you to have died in vain
kissing the turkey and
the neck of my dog
all animals am I.
all dreams, all stone
all message am I.
For Sigve Knutson creating in three-dimensions should be a process as natural as drawing, playing, daydreaming. More interested in learning than perfecting any technique, tools and materials, in their unique nature and histories, are often the prime focus of the broad array of objects he creates. Even when years of professional work should deny this possibility, Knutson still manages to find ways to keep having those intuitive serendipities which only a beginner might have when discovering a new material, or tool, allowing mistakes, the unplanned and playful to become part of his process. Described at times as a designer, a craftsman or an artist, Knutson’s practice is more like the one of a poet, seeking a kind of freedom and form which often transcends or defies its content. Some of his most famous works are functional objects, like stools and tables, however some are instead purely sculptures, which abandon design and sometimes even craftsmanship to reaffirm in new forms the lessons and familiarity with the three-dimensional space he’s learned from these very fields. For this exhibition, his first solo show in Sweden, Knutson presents a new body of works in wood and silver, expanding some of his most known series and introducing some experimental new ideas. Log Scriber is divided in two parts, one actually made of logs: carved, sawed and chiseled oak plinths bearing on top delicately shaped and smoothly sanded sculptures in birch and elm burls. The other is a shelf displaying ten miniature sculptures in silver. These tiny objects, developed as part of a broader project which will result in a publication later this year,(1) are like drawings in three-dimensions, a vocabulary of forms, or an inventory of monuments to come. Log Scriber is maybe also what Knutson would like the visitor, probably not familiar with carpentry and its tools, to imagine him to be: this fantastic character drawing with wood. And knowing what a log scriber really is is really not important and shouldn’t concern the viewer. Like any other tool in Knutson’s workshop is like a magic wand to him, something that can open new realms, a vessel to new discoveries. Something he has initially chosen to use maybe more for its shape than for the result he wanted to achieve with it, like a word chosen only for its sound, not for its meaning. This is the kind of inversions of roles common to a poet, akin to ingenuity in its irreverent, revolutionary and contradictory potential, especially when in knowledgable hands. Enzo Mari once said: “Ingenuity is a healthy quality of youth…that in years, beating one’s head against the contradictions of the real world is transformed into determined knowledge. Meaning that the ethical values of the initial ingenuity are maintained while the implications linked to miserable and complete ignorance are lost.”(2) And this might be the best description of the way in which intuition is kept alive in the practice of this poet, who’s also a designer, craftsman, and artist. Leaving behind any need of clear-cut definitions and borders, towards which the polarised societies in which we live in constantly push us towards, he decided to be the sculptor who conceived the soft and dreamy forms on top of the pedestals and in the wall displayer, the designer who shaped the plinths and the very shelf, and eventually also the craftsman who chiseled, formed, carved and cut these materials in his workshop in the South of Norway. Sigve Knutson must be the Log Scriber.
(1) The publication, the first monograph dedicated to the Norwegian artist, is one of the outcomes of the residency activity promoted by the IN Residence project (http://inresidence-design.com/). More specifically: Barbara Brondi & Marco Rainò, Sigve Knutson – Metamorphosis Signals, Quodlibet, 2023.
(2) Our translation. The quote comes from a public speech given during a presentation in Firenze of his book Progetto e Passione on 7 April 2001 (The whole text can be read at https://www.ideamagazine.net/it/progetto_design/enzo_ mari_progetto_e_passione.htm accessed on 21 April 2023).
Kyvèli Zoi’s paintings are often details. Fragments of bodies, trimmed as if looking close enough to try and see through the images and into the very essence of the moments and people they depict. They reveal a world which is shattered but full, described more in its instants than by its continuity, motionless in what seems like moments of revelation, or reflection. Private and witty, these paintings often entail questions relating power and gender relations, but also lighthearted moments of everyday’s life. Initially focused on a more narrative and detailed kind of figuration, with colourful views, scenes and characters, often painted onto very large formats, Zoi’s canvases and subjects have become in the past years smaller and narrower. Details, mostly of female bodies, became almost the only subject, while canvases shrunk in size. With “Spectators,” Zoi is presenting the viewers with the most extreme result of this process, but a surprise too. The subject depicted becomes one and the same, reiterated seamlessly, and the canvases are some of the smallest she has ever painted. Surprisingly, however, these bitty oils on canvas are juxtaposed to one of her largest paintings to date. Almost 4 meters wide, Spectators,(1) magnificently takes hold and sets the tone of the whole exhibition. In this large diptych, what appears to be three women, different in their body type and ethnicity, stand next to each other, and their bodies, cropped by the canvas’ margins, are shown only from the neck to the belly. Only their bare breasts remain in the picture plane, and only breasts are the subject, in fact, of each and every work part of “Spectators.” They look back at us from the walls of the gallery space, powerfully imposing their presence in the room, in the inversion of roles between who is looking and who is looked upon which the artist wanted to suggest with the exhibition title. Eventually, by repeating her subjects indefinitely, Kyvèli Zoi does also something more with her images. She seems to aim to create what one could describe as new archetypes, odd and private archetypes like: that hand holding a cigarette in a thoughtful moment, the cocktail glass barely covering the forms of a naked body, or that feeling while looking into a fishbowl. This ‘archetype-isation’ might be read as an invitation to stop considering only the singularity of the very image in front of us, and surpass it in order to appreciate its higher essence, distilling the very prototypical form(2) it held for the artist. As such, this close up of breasts, looking back at us from the picture plane, becomes part of this vocabulary of idiosyncratic archetypes, in its beautiful and empowering clarity.
(1) Kyvèli Zoi, Spectators, 2023 (Oil on linen, diptych, dimensions variable, 140 x 160 cm each).
(2) As by the etymology of archetype from the Ancient Greek ἄρχω (árkhō) ‘to begin’, and τῠ́πος (túpos) ‘sort, type’.
“The marvellous forms a system with the miraculous and the magical. The miraculous is reserved for God, and is manifested by a divine act defying the laws of nature. Magic, even if there remains a lawful form of white magic, is essentially a reprehensible form of witchcraft imputable either to the enemy of the human race, the devil, or to his henchmen, demons and sorcerers. The marvellous, astonishing and incomprehensible, nevertheless belongs to the order of nature.”
Jacques Le Goff(1)
The Swedish word Vapenhuset is impossible to properly translate, not because there are no fully correspondent words for it in English, but because in the Swedish language it has two parallel meanings which constitute, in their fusion, the essence of the word Emelie Sandström chose as title of this exhibition and that, metaphorically, might define the whole of her very art practice.
As first meaning, the dictionary would say that Vapenhuset corresponds to The Armoury and, as a room dedicated to the storage of weapons, this is, indeed, the idea at the core of the body of works presented in this exhibition. Weapons, in the form of blades, swords, chains and spears, shining or rusting, in metal or wood, are an archetypical element in Sandström’s production(2) and have a very special meaning for her. In their scary and dangerous appearance, these objects stem from a metaphorical and yet also very real need for protection, or better, defence. A defence from what? One could ask. The answer brings with it probably one of the most important keys to interpret the practice of the Swedish artist: a defence from herself and her own mind. Diagnosed with ADHD and living with the anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviours often involved with this condition, Emelie Sandström started to build weapons to protect herself from the terrible things she would believe could happen to her if these feelings and fears would not be listened to, in an extreme form of defence turned into art practice. On the other hand, Vapenhuset has, in Swedish, another meaning that is not as concisely translatable in English: it describes a specific part of Swedish Christian churches. Vapenhuset, then, designates a room on the left side of the church’s main nave which is considered to have been a place where, during Middle Ages, weapons were stored, either when visiting the church in the day to day life, or in extreme cases of threat and war. This specific place, where in Swedish iconography the Devil was often pictured as hiding, brings us into the other element crucial to understanding Sandström’s art: spirituality. Fascinated by the use of enchantment in religion and mysticism, and especially in how crafts, specific materials and art have traditionally and culturally been used to instigate fear as much as the miraculous in the believers and in the general populace, the Swedish artist has always integrated these elements in her own practice. The idea of the necessity of building sacred spaces as a physical manifestation of safe spaces, comes directly from a truly felt yearning for spirituality and the protection from the world it affords. It is within these two perspectives that Sandström uses and often chooses her materials, techniques and iconographies, as she tries to find peace and hold her fears at bay in the same way in which stained glass and gargoyles did for Medieval churchgoers. From this ongoing fascination, a whole universe of private iconographies and sacral objects has brewed in the years. Symbols, like the pentagram, are often estranged from their original meaning and acquire new significance in this private mythology.(3) The enchanting coloured glass of Christian churches becomes entwined with pagan symbols and takes the form of epoxy resin hanging pendants that irradiate a magical aura. The very techniques employed, like woodturning and polishing metal, are chosen in their ritualistic and repetitive nature in an artistic process where nothing is left to chance and every little detail and action has a meaning and an almost spell-like formula connected to it.
It is within this complex and at times terrible landscape of fear, anxiety and pain that we should imagine the marvellous objects that Emelie Sandström creates. And there lies the real enchantment: in the way in which she is able to turn pain into beauty, fear into safety and invite the viewers to step into the Vapenhuset she created for them, to behold the shields, armours, talismans and weapons she uses everyday to fend off darkness. The room is transformed in a sacred place we are invited in, where a spiritual energy is strongly present and irradiates from these sinuous and shining objects and, eventually, a place where the Medieval marvellous, magical and miraculous, that Le Goff described as separate yet crucial natures, can meet, in a practice which is at once natural, magical and spiritual.
Mattia Lullini and Alina Vergnano
(1) Le Goff, Jacques, Héros et Merveilles du Moyen Âge [Heroes and Marvels of the Middle Ages], Paris, Seuil, coll. Histoire, 2008, p. 32. “Le merveilleux forme un système avec le miraculeux et le magique. Le miraculeux est réservé à Dieu, et se manifeste par un acte divin défiant les lois de la nature. Le magique, même s’il subsiste une forme licite de magie blanche, est essentiellement une forme condamnable de sorcellerie imputable soit à l’ennemi du genre humain, le diable, soit à ses suppôts, les démons et les sorciers. Le merveilleux, étonnant et incompréhensible, appartient pourtant à l’ordre de la nature.” Our translation.
(2) In this aspect it is interesting to look at the documentation of one of Emelie Sandström’s first solo shows, 2015’s Hin, Galleri KHM, Malmö.
(3) A pentagram medallion has become a coat of mail in one of the sculptures in the show, the object was cast in hundreds of copies from a gift Sandström received from a friend, and used without any relation to its emotional value nor the symbology connected to it. Instead, it was replicated in order to avoid the terrible things that the artist feared would happen to her, if the original medallion would have ever been lost (in a by-the-book OCD behaviour). The sculpture is aptly entitled “Keep Me Safe,” 2022.
A figure stands in front of us. Dressed in a casual white shirt and khaki pants, their hands hold up a foot in the usually unfortunate act of looking what they might have unintentionally stepped on. It is with surprise, then, that under the lifted sole we do not find the proverbial dog dropping or chewing gum, but a naked figure, squeezed and compressed, clearly bearing the face of Alexander Basil.
Reiterated both as his human self or in the most diverse forms, like a button, a clock, a bee or a candle, Basil himself is the uncontested centre of his own art practice. With self-portraiture as a point of departure, the German artist has made of this classic painting trope – the painterly apotheosis of self-exploration – a vessel for an intriguing and powerfully empowering narrative. Almost always alone, in the privacy of his apartment and naked, at times uninterested in our look, while at times aware and seemingly welcoming our gaze, Basil allows us to peek in what is most private and secret in his life, both physically and psychologically. Depending on the exhibition, we might observe his painted self bathing in his bathroom or masturbating with a dildo, struggling in banal daily occupations or daydreaming of male-maternity. Basil manages to communicate visually in a tone that is both humorous and neutral, prude and openly erotic, while effortlessly moving between the serious and the comical. The common thread and the always present element is the body – the artist’s body – that, hairy and pink, is presented and represented as the fulcrum and pivot to his whole painterly practice. A dynamic image, a metaphor in the hands of the artist’s interests, conflicts and fantasies, this body becomes a place for an empowering assertion and definition of its sex(1) and, at the same time, it is a language, used by Basil to reach out to the viewer and communicate his apparently unfiltered psychological self. In this perspective, after fascinating us with their compositions and execution, after making us smile at their often absurd settings, these paintings become all of a sudden even more relevant as they come to define their own reality. A private reality that elevates itself into a universal one, and allows space, time and intelligibility to one of the innumerable forms of the self, enriching us hereof. This painterly space that Basil creates can be seen then as a safe space, a place separated from reality and where nudity and privacy are able to be presented in a more neutral way, where this self-depiction can lose the common carnal perception of the naked body to become a more psychological and interpersonal medium. It is within this space that the artist hopes to open a channel of communication, to establish a contact otherwise hard for him to reach. The multitude of Alexander Basils depicted in The Problem I Did Not Consider hence represent, in this perspective, the problem. They are all the failures and failed attempts to achieve such connection in real life, when stepping outside of the painterly metaphor.
As Ursula K. Le Guin has masterfully written in the introduction to one of her books, in a writing originally referring to science fiction, but also seemingly perfectly fitting the autobiographically fantasised and fictional world depicted by Alexander Basil: “All fiction is metaphor. Science fiction is metaphor […] so is an alternative society, an alternative biology; the future is another. The future, in function, is a metaphor. A metaphor for what? If I could have said it non-metaphorically, I would not have written all these words, this novel […].”(2) So when entering this unique place, that Basil invites us to share with him when looking at his body, at his dreams and fantasies, at the multitude of selves in which he depicts and shatters himself: clumsy, sad, sexy, bored, reaching out by oversharing and being honest, but also by lying, misleading and exaggerating, there we find the metaphor, the richness giving to these works their magnetic force. They attract us in the impossibility of imagining a better way to convey such a complex matter, and there are no words to describe them otherwise, ungraspable and private, as much as public, universal and easy to relate to.
Mattia Lullini and Alina Vergnano
(1) On the subject and especially on how the body becomes crucial in unveiling how the heterosexual hegemony shapes the understanding of sex and gender: J. Butler, ‘Bodies that Matter’; in Feminist Theory and the Body: A Reader, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1999, pp. 235-245.
(2) U. K. Le Guin, ‘Introduction’ in The Left Hand of Darkness, London, Gollangz, 1969, p. xi.
For CHART 2022, NEVVEN presents a solo booth by Swedish artist Olof Marsja, presenting his largest freestanding sculpture to date juxtaposed to two new iterations of his signature-style cast glass wall sculptures, in a monumental installation that brings to the forefront the complex and multi-layered narratives embodied by his sculptures. Blending contemporary aesthetics with an interest in design, fashion, traditional techniques and crafts, Marsja effortlessly mixes a personal and fascinating perspective with identity politics, and the culture and stories linked to his Sámi background.
“s. f. [der. di villeggiare]. – Il villeggiare, il trascorrere le vacanze, un periodo di riposo o di svago, in campagna, al mare o ai monti: l’estate è la stagione della v.; la v. ti ha fatto bene; è stata una bella v.; fare una lunga v. al mare, in montagna; andare, essere in v.; tornare dalla v.; […]. Per estens., il periodo di tempo e il luogo stesso in cui si va o si è a villeggiare: durante la v. cerco di dimenticare i problemi di lavoro; siamo ormai alla fine della v.; le Dolomiti sono la mia v. preferita.”
“substantive feminine [deriving from villeggiare]. – Vacationing, spending holidays, a period of rest or leisure, in the countryside, by the sea or in the mountains: summer is the v. season; the v. did you good; it was a nice v.; to make a long v. by the sea, in the mountains; to go, to be on v.; returning from v.; […]. By extension, the period of time and the place where one goes or is to vacation: during v. I try to forget about work problems; we are now at the end of the v.; the Dolomites are my favorite v..”
“Villeggiatura.” Definition by the Treccani Dictionary. 2022. Online. (NEVVEN’s translation)
Spring in Scandinavia is a unique moment of the year. After the long white and dark winter and the as well long fall season, with its grey rains and fogs, nature comes back to life. Like most seasons in the north of the world, this comes as an apotheosis. Forced by the latitude to make the best of the few days before the cold swiftly returns, nature explodes in a paroxysm of life. Trees, plants, animals and insects seemingly dead for months, awaken and blossom in a thousand colours, buzzes and greens and fill the still chilly air, the grey winter forests, the dry grasslands. One of the first flowers to announce this thrilling moment of the year, often stemming out of the still present snow, are the purple crocus flowers (krokus in Norwegian). Using the powerful symbology of these plants as point of departure, Krokus, a solo exhibition by Oda Iselin Sønderland, conjures a deep connection to wild nature and its seasons, to the forest landscape of Norway, its oneiric depiction and pagan roots, crystallising them as catalysts for an intimate narrative, fascinating and bewildering at the same time.
Dreams fill a great part of our life, and, as much as the reason for which they happen remains unexplained, their importance feels at once natural and intuitive. The oneiric world is crucial to many cultures and this has been valid also for Norse culture where dreams were interpreted as potential foretellers of the future. One could take as an example the famous dream of Queen Ragnhild, who reigned in Norway during the IX century alongside King Halfdan the Black. One night, Ragnhild dreamed that she took a brooch off of her cloak and held it out in front of her. Roots immediately began trailing out of it and toward the ground, where they took hold. Branches then shot up from the brooch, and the tree soon grew so tall that Ragnhild was unable to see over it. The tree’s bowl was blood-red, its upper trunk green, and its branches snowy white. The branches spread out to cover all of Norway, and even extended into other lands as well.(1) One cannot help but imagine this scene as belonging to one of Sønderland’s paintings. Yet, differently from the dreams of a queen, what is found in the delicate yet incisive pictures by the Norwegian-Irish artist is the world of a young woman who grew up close to the forests surrounding Oslo and now lives in the overwhelming yet exciting metropolitan London. As she depicts her fantasies and fears, her desires and intimate feelings, one should beware, although, not to read too literally through these images. The often complex game of frames and images inscribed within images, so peculiar of Sønderland’s paintings, should in fact act as a reminder of how what is represented here is a realm in itself, a liminal world where the artist’s waking reality meets and merges with her subconscious. Sønderland’s paintings are cryptic and intimate at once, depicting an allegorical world that does not allow, and neither requires, full comprehension: a place where technology intertwines with nature, love with fairytales, life with dreams. And in the same way as our dreams leave us puzzled, smitten and confused, these works are similarly able to strike us deeply with the force of their alien images, their bodily yearnings and bewildering details.
For Sønderland, this particular space of liminality, of blurred borders and boundaries, is intrinsically connected with nature, and in specific with the unique wilderness of central Scandinavia. A nature linked to a profound pagan history and tradition, a nature that can be magic and terrible, dark and yet so brightly alive. Sønderland invites us here to witness the powerful moment of awakening of this very nature, a moment in between the long sleep of winter and the frenzy of summer, where dreams are still attached to all things as thin, glimmering, gossamer threads. This is the beginning of a season that harbours both hope and fear for the unforeseeable, a symbol not so easy to decipher, where, in rebirth, life and death hold hands in circle.Krokus guides us to this place of yearning, existing between past, present and future, between states and lands, fantasies and memories, love and fear, a place that Sønderland has described, by borrowing Björk lyrics: “While you are away / My heart comes undone / Slowly unravels / In a ball of yarn // The devil collects it / With a grin / Our love / In a ball of yarn // He’ll never return it / So when you come back / We’ll have to make new love.” (2)
Mattia Lullini & Alina Vergnano
(1) Edward Oswald Gabriel Turville-Petre, Nine Norse Studies (1972). Years later, Ragnhild realised the significance of the dream: the tree symbolised her descendants. Her son, Harald Finehair, was to become the first ruler of all of Norway. The tree’s blood-red bowl symbolised the bloodshed that would occur while Harald was coming to power, the green upper trunk the vigour and glory of his reign, and the white branches his own descendants, from whom would come Norway’s rulers for many generations.
(2) Björk, Unravel from the album Homogenic (1997).
Oda Iselin Sønderland was invited for a two-week artist residency in Gothenburg to produce part of the show and partake in an artist talk. The residency and artist talk were made possible in collaboration with Konstepidemin.
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The two main systems of thought supporting most of our knowledge of physical reality, Quantum Mechanics (QM) and General Relativity, have been both largely proven as valid, yet, when brought to their extremes, to the infinitesimally large or small, these two theories contradict one another wrong by fundamentally describing a universe made of different yet somehow coexisting natures.(1) The fact that the world in which we live is not possible to be congruously described (by science, at least) has a poetic resonance which is impossible to ignore.
If we follow QM to the infinitesimally small particles, the reality around us becomes so incomprehensible to border abstraction and so entangled to make matter almost impossible to be divided into separate entities. This entanglement,(2) in its poetic and philosophical implications is crucial in the work of Norwegian-based Italian artist Alina Vergnano. Exploring the thin line between figuration and abstraction, capturing the in-between-ness of different states, emotions and techniques, her canvases are grounded in an abstraction-of-figuration where bodies, limbs, eyes intertwine on their sometimes minimal sometimes maximalist surfaces. Over-imposed as if capturing the instant within the complex reality of the microscopical, her works uniquely embody fluidity, in its fleeting and impalpable nature, as if they were physics of the emotions reified.
Phenomenology and especially one of its natural extensions: OOO (Object Oriented Ontology) invites to read reality not as stream of causal effects but instead to focus on the perspective of any object, which once freed from its causal relations lives in a stream of unrelated and unique states. It makes us appreciate a new perspective and an almost religious attention to the uniqueness of anything, alive and not, around us. The sacrality derived to all that surrounds us, to each single stone and manufactured item, to each animal and living plant is not only the most obvious result of this advanced philosophical interpretation of physics, but the same thought at the base of the spirituality and religious beliefs for the Sámi (in the North of Europe, for as much as similar ideas can be found among many other cultures from all over the World). It is drawing from both OOO and this ancient knowledge which could have been passed to him by his elders (if the passage would not have been broken by colonialism) that Swedish artist Olof Marsja produces his sculptures. These are objects with a story, a private idiosyncratic story first, but also a story mediated by a never neutral use of materials and crafts as much as the ability to infuse these hybrid spiritual, philosophical, personal artefacts of great humour, subtle pop references and Gorp fashion.
Fecund, inspiring and, at once, similar to the entangled reality of subatomic matter, hybridity is a territory where also Stockholm based Norwegian artist Tim Høibjerg’s practice deeply dwells. Challenging reality as much as our perception of it, Tim Høibjerg brings us into a realm which is frightening and fascinating, horrifying and sensual, dark and bright at the same time. His practice blends and attempts to blur classical dichotomies such as good and evil, or real and digital, presenting us instead with a fluidly erotic world where the male body is often hybridised with amphibious and marine creatures, in installations, videos and sculptures whose queerness reminds of the behaviour of sub-atomic matter.(3) A realm bordering the abstract and transporting us deep into what could be a dark nightmare, or one’s most intimate fantasy.
It is in this darkness and brightness, in their queer interconnectedness and incompatible yet inseparable nature, which reminds to how physics and ontologies have the capacity to both describe our reality and finally not agree with each other, that And Darkness the Right Hand of Light wants to invite the viewer to dwell, and venture into the practices of these three artists. Different yet relating, non-causal and omni-comprehensive the works by Alina Vergnano, Olof Marsja and Tim Høibjerg complete and inspire new interpretations of one another, reminding of how all is interconnected and contradictory, at once and at all times. As an hermaphrodite alien in a far planet and future said: “Light is The Left Hand of Darkness / And Darkness the Right Hand of Light.”(4)
Mattia Lullini & Alina Vergnano
(1) On this topic, of theoretically unending complexity, I’d suggest starting from the comprehensible and, at times, lyrical Alessandro Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (2016).
(2) On this topic Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (2007).
(3) Karen Barad, Nature’s Queer Performativity in Qui Parle,Vol. 19, No. 2 (Duke Univeristy Press, 2011), pp. 121-158.
(4) Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), p. 233.
Comments Off on Pumping Gas (You’ve Touched on More Water)
Sport, in its symbolical and social value, has held a central role in Fathia Mohidin’s practice, as a universally understood signifier, as a practice related to her personal life, and as a metaphorical aerobic step from which to leap and bring us to reflect upon cogent sociological, political and economical over-structures of our society. In Pumping Gas (You’ve Touched on More Water), Mohidin’s first exhibition paired with her long time collaborator, electro-acoustic composer Adele Kosman, the body, its muscles and sweat, becomes a point of departure for a broader reflection into the continuous process of breaking down and regenerating of matter.
The wearing and tearing and subsequent recovering of the body after physical exertion, translates here in an immersive installation that invites us to look deeper into the continuous process of disintegration and regeneration that takes place not only in our bodies, but in all that surrounds us. Starting from the cellular level and up, Mohidin & Kosman question the bodily and mental implications of these never ending processes of rebirth and decay. Water, the main element that composes our masses, assumes a central role in this investigation as the process of sweating and rehydrating takes us directly back to our bodily existence, captured at the same time in the moment and its cyclical nature, giving to the body an ontological and symbolic role. This idea of circularity, of disintegration as a creative process, and of regeneration as the beginning of an ending, informs deeply the quadraphonic sound installation that is central to Pumping Gas (You’ve Touched on More Water). The roughly 20 minutes long composition transports us into a journey of a rarefied yet brutal nature. Accompanied by pulsating beats and frail keyboards, field recordings, watery sounds and digital riffs. Its voices subtly narrate a story of disintegration: “Something has to break” they tell us, “Something always has to break” it is iterated while breaking up in what seems an attempt at reclaiming that this action happens “continuously.” The installation, infused in a blue light that reinforces the otherworldliness of this experience, is completed by sculpturally built concrete seats that invite the viewers to stop, sit down and allow the sound to take control. And, while the body comes into contact with the apparently sturdy material of the seats and abandons itself to the experience, we realise that the same water that our body disperses by living and moving, is what makes concrete particularly subject to disintegration over time.
A last element completes and subtly connects every part of the exhibition: a licking stone for horses. Used to give the animals salts, vitamins and minerals, this unexpected object, leans like an alien stone or a strange healing crystal in the blue light. This direct reference to the process of dehydration and rehydration, and to the instinct leading the body towards assuming the salts it lacks in order to restore itself, leads us back to that cycle of disintegration and regeneration that is life itself and that has informed so much of mankind’s ontological speculations from the origins until now. But, as Carl Jung once wrote: “The purpose of nearly all rebirths rites is to unite the above with the below”(1) and maybe that’s all that it takes to understand this movement intrinsic to all that is, by literally and metaphorically embracing this process connecting A to B, and back, continuously.
Mattia Lullini & Alina Vergnano
(1) Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, p. 259-261.
The artists wish to thank: Max Börjesson, Elektronmusikstudion, Eva Eriksson, Oscar Feuk, Evelyn Kosman, Arvid Kraft, and Sandie Ravnskov.
The exhibition has been produced also with support of Stim Forward Fund.
“The societal default
is white superiority
and we are fed
a steady diet of it
To yowl is to utter a loud long cry of grief, pain, or distress. For Olivia Sterling it is the sound of the white person that openly laments the loss of its privileges in the face of societal progression in diversity and inclusion. In her new body of work the British artist not only wants us to see how whiteness looks like, a recurring topos in her work, but also metaphorically present us with how it sounds like. Inspired by a specific experience of one of these casual, yet chilling, remarks (namely the recount of privileged parents scoffing at how it is getting harder for their non-marginalised children to get into prestigious universities in the United Kingdom), in Yowl, Sterling depicts these utterances in all their crudeness while, with her signature slapstick style, she exposes them as what they are, yowling cries for attention, so eye roll-inducing to become bitterly laughable.
Sterling’s works draw the viewer in with the catchy visual language of cartoons, with their humorous soft features and flashy colours, but at a second glance the paintings begin to reveal a violence that seeps and creeps in the colourful images. Bouncy slaps, soft-flesh grabs, knife strikes might at first appear innocuous in this versicoloured fantasy, but once in the seen, the cel animated viciousness starts to feel very real. In Yowl, Sterling chooses to continue placing her characters into familiar settings and surround them with everyday objects. If in previous series the set up was shared tables and meals, vignettes of joyful togetherness where hidden micro and macro-aggressions, unwanted touching and grabbing, and othering dynamics were served along with white glazed pastry and chocolate smudged hands. Here, however, the artist chooses to zoom further in, focusing her attention only on the hands of the characters interacting with one another, while depicting in full colour the whiny sound of white fragility. In these paintings, white hands, often tagged by Sterling with playful looking letters corresponding to their colour (as W for white, P for pink), are not only surrounded by hands marked as Bs or Ys, but even more they appear to be wounded: bitten by a snake, stabbed by a knife or pierced with an arrow. These works want to be literal visual representations of what the artist herself describes as the “illogical arguments used to gaslight marginalised people using certain stock sentences repeated in order to lessen the blow of discrimination.”
If it is the gift of few painters to be able to have such a personal and powerfully attracting painterly language as Olivia Sterling does, it is an ability of even fewer to be able to draw the public closer in such a compelling way when dealing with identity politics. With an artistic discourse captivatingly intersecting with the most contemporary manifestations of figurative painting, she manages to entice and not deter, to excite and attract, and by doing so she pushes the viewers to ask themselves questions that would have not aroused such an interest otherwise. Her work captures, intrigues, and then surprises the still very white and middle/upper-class public of art galleries and institutions confronting them with an uncomfortable reality which is not very often debated, even by the woke Europeans. In Yowl, with her secure brush strokes and witty compositions, Sterling presents us with a newly produced series of works that are both painterly and politically relevant at the same time. As she momentarily blurs, but only in order to highlight, the borders between violence and play, her magnetic canvases assure that we are watching, while the veil of innocence under which everyday racism hides drops in front of our eyes.
Alina Vergnano & Mattia Lullini
(1) Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility and the Rules of Engagement, p. 1.
Intra-action is a term coined by quantum physicist and feminist thinker Karen Barad to describe in a new way the relation that connects humans, nature, objects and reality itself. Differently from the term interaction, which implies two or more entities in a relation existing independently from their connection, accordingly to Barad, entities arise instead from the very relations in which they are embedded. Applying this idea in the context of an art exhibition, the viewer would be then invited to focus their attention, not only on the agency that both artist and materials have, but on the resulting deeper network of relations existing within everything present in the gallery, including themselves. This “dynamism of forces,”(1) that involves all things and makes them change, influence and affect each other inseparably, is also what brings together and entangles the viewer in the complex environment of materials, intents, memories and senses composing Liesl Raff’s Smoke and Mirrors.
Entering the exhibition, the public is instantly enveloped by the odour of burning incense resin, as they notice subtle columns of smoke rising from five wall-based aluminium sculptures. Hanging from incisions made in the wall, reminding of the scarring of trees from which the now burning copal was harvested, the sculptures themselves were cast from the actual glass buckets employed in the extraction process. The large window of the gallery space is partially covered, instead, by the hanging latex sculpture Curtain. More than twelve meters long, its surface has a skin-like texture and colour, a quasi-bodily presence. It grows, like an organism, onto the jute ropes it’s hanging from and its folded surface envelops pieces of other, older, sculptures, in an act of osmotic repurposing, that appears to blur temporalities and significances. Curtain also partitions the room creating an enclosed area within the gallery, a space that uses architecture to achieve an intimate feel. It bears memories from the artist’s past, mixing a sense of vulnerability with the empowerment felt when finding a hiding place as a child: standing behind curtains, under a table, or in a closet. The soft, yet heavy surface of the latex sculpture becomes in fact a shield, behind which one can retreat, heal and rest, while the window’s glass, cut out from the artificial light, abandons its transparent nature and becomes a mirror for everything else, both outside and inside the space.
Similarly to the burning of sage, the burning of resin has a powerful ritualistic significance: it cleanses spaces, it clears them from negative energies, it makes rooms sacred and safe. And rituals, traditionally, are most of all about transformation, marking a moment of shift from one state to another. In Smoke and Mirrors Raff is enacting a ritual too, as she opens up a passage to a space within a space and invites the viewer to cross this threshold, or portal, she creates, to enter a place in which the whole body becomes involved and where the viewer is asked to embrace change, transformation, impermanence and the strength that comes with them. Using architecture and ritual, physical objects and impalpable forces, Raff creates a space that is not meant for the things that are, but for the things becoming: a “transitional place for transitional objects,” as she would define it. A place where the relation between the viewers, and everything else present, is captured in a state of entanglement, of reciprocal affectivity, which recalls the intra-action and intra-relations that Barad and modern physics find between all that exists. An almost tactile feeling that Raff invites us to experience physically, intimately and spiritually.
Alina Vergnano & Mattia Lullini
(1) Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway (2007)
“Hans was not mistaken,” he said. “What you hear is the rushing of a torrent.” “A torrent?” I exclaimed.“There can be no doubt; a subterranean river is flowing around us.”
Jules Verne, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 1864
In a tradition whose origins are lost in the Nordic middle ages, it is said that during the night of Midsummer’s eve powerful magic can be performed and that the borders between the spiritual world and ours are thinner. Among the many rituals and celebrations connected to this special day in the Swedish calendar, a folk tradition tells that if at least seven different kinds of flowers are picked following a specific ritual and placed under ones’ own pillow during this magical night, one would dream of the person that they will marry. Around the middle of August, instead, in what is considered the midst of Summer in Southern Europe, large bonfires are lit on the hills of Piedmont, in Italy. A ritual descending from a past more ancient even than the Romans, these bonfires are both gifts and spells, to thank the gods on one side and scare the evil spirits which might destroy the crops on the coming winter, on the other. Alice Visentin’s paintings and drawings originate precisely in the light of stories, spells, and once living, now disappearing traditions as these. Stubbornly fascinated by this fading world, Visentin digs into a history that often involves shame: shame of a rural past, of poverty, or of its connections with magic and the occult, which has no place in nowadays world, and where tales, once sung by choirs, are now only told in whispers. Like a dowser with her stick, she feels for traditions that seem forgotten but, like a subterranean river, continue to flow underground. This is why Visentin refers to this world as underwater, Subacqueo, hidden under the surface, but still present, a whole world of knowledge, transmitted orally, which we have only lost the ability to understand.
This submerged world comes afloat in Visentin’s paintings and drawings through her vivid imagination and unique narrative capacity, in which the relations between the larger images, the small details composing them, and the constellations of words and lines linking them like a web, are connected by inhomogeneous and yet associative relations which feel magical as these ancient rites, and remind of those bonfires still dotting, every August, the Piedmont hills from which Visentin is coming from. The same fires appear in the Italian writer Cesare Pavese’s most famous book, The Moon and the Bonfires, where he wrote: “I believed for a long time that this small village, where I was born, was the whole world. Now that I’ve seen the world and I know it is made of many small villages, I am not so sure if I was that wrong when I was a boy.” Visentin’s works, drawing from both history and imagination, disclose to us the hidden spirit of her small village, the Piedmont region, and, by doing so, she reminds us of the richness of timeless cultures disappearing everywhere, but also of how much closer we all are never mind from which small village we come from and how these underground currents reach much further than our borders, silently watering our collective roots with magic and ancient wisdom we believed lost.
Mattia Lullini and Alina Vergnano
Alice Visentin (Italy, 1993) explores the possibilities of painting and drawing with flamboyant installations and forms as rich and uncontainable in their content as much as often impossible to locate chronologically. Her interest into folk traditions, rituals and wisdom blends idiosyncratically in her art and transcends her historical inspirations harbouring unexpected tableaux vivantes where nature, characters and ideas (often reified in the form of words) synchronically mix in an unmistakably personal language. Visentin has an MFA in Fine Arts from the Accademia Albertina in Turin and her exhibitions include shows with Galleria Continua (as part of the off-site project Una Boccata d’Arte in Avise), Galerie Rolando Anselmi in Berlin, Monitor Gallery and Gallery ADA in Rome, Dom in Palermo, Castello Di Perno in Monteforte D’Alba and Tile Project Space in Milan. Her work is also included in the collections of Museo Ettore Fico and Fondazione CRC, while, in 2020, she was awarded the AccadeMibac Prize and was exhibited at Palazzo delle Esposizioni as part of the extended-program of the 2020 Rome Quadrennial. Visentin lives and works in Turin, Italy.
For CHART 2021, NEVVEN presents a solo booth by Brussels-based French artist Anastasia Bay presenting a new series of her signature-style large format paintings inspired by the iconic 1950 short movie A Song of Love by French novelist, political activist and poet Jean Genet. A site-specific monumental installation will transform the space with an atypical hanging, a mixture between an ancient fresco and a larger than life comic strip book, and bring the viewers further into Bay’s intriguing and always enticing painterly language.
NEVVEN is proud to present The Crossdresser & the Phoenix, a group show curated by the Austrian artist and curator Julius Pristauz. Starting from the intersection between an interest in the construction and gender aspect of identities, and some of the most exciting contemporary art expressions, as per usual with the shows curated by the young Austrian polymath, The Crossdresser & the Phoenix draws parallels between two iconic and culturally coded figures – the cross-dresser and the phoenix – and uses their combination and juxtaposition as a starting point for examinations revolving around matters and mechanisms of representation.
The phoenix as a mythological creature can be found throughout various cultures and usually describes and gets depicted as an allegorical bird. The many tales of its constant friction between creation and destruction make it one of the most well-known ancient myths in the modern day. Often associated with the worship of the sun, it is related to immortality, with its symbolism having a widespread appeal in late antiquity. In Islamic mythology, the phoenix was identified with the ‘anqā’ (Persian: sīmorgh), a huge mysterious bird that was said to be flawless but ended up turning into a scourge. However, over time the motif and concept of the phoenix got diffused, altered and adapted – ranging from its use as a symbol for political formations in 20th century Greece all the way to manifold pop-cultural interpretations and iterations.
As a cross-dresser we commonly perceive a person who wears the clothes stereotypically associated with the opposite sex than the one they were assigned at birth. The phenomenon of this kind of drag has historically been used to gender-disguise and to give birth to new identities. However, in nowadays society, it appears to lose significance. It feels oddly outdated and that rightfully so as we continuously understand, accept and embrace different kinds of gender expression more. Similar to the idea of the phoenix, cross-dressing, too, implies a temporal level. In slight contrast to other gender identities, no matter if rigid or fluid, it appears to be something rather time-based. Something that is not necessarily of permanence and repeatedly reinvents itself. For this exhibition, we are interested in this ambiguous, ambivalent, multi-contextual, multi- dimensional and emergent nature of cross-dressing as a simultaneous matter of hiding, subverting and opening up.
One being a media-historically depreciated and misinterpreted character, the other a fictitious sacred animal – these two semi-acting fey subjects, here meet and manifest in the form of various other protagonists. Staying true to an idea of drag as being about the connection of natural and artificial, animate and inanimate, we find this reading turn into a tool that is further demonstrated within the different presented artworks. We, therefore, believe that drag should tend to produce more connections to others and other things than to just represent them. “What becomes visible is that drag is not people, individuals, subjects, or identities, but rather assemblages…”(1) In that exact manner, these stand-ins and alternates, in their togetherness, ask questions as to how context can only exist through and due to drawing parallels. By comparing and linking existing ideas to new
entities, they aim to empower individual ownership and autonomy. With their positionality, they subvert prevailing concepts of roles, power, dominance and submission. Focusing on moments of shapeshifting and reinvention, the exhibition illustrates observations of behavioural and societal patterns. It takes a look at those within ourselves, within community structures, the media and other blatant, more imaginative, realms. It turns into a tool of unfolding other storylines, old and new. Just like a wig, a moustache, a pair of heels or some boots can change a life – just like a jukebox – it activates new tunes and new narratives to hum along.
(1) Renate Lorenz, Queer Art – A Freak Theory, p.21
NEVVEN is proud to present, Notes on Wine, a solo exhibition by the Amsterdam based German artist Charlott Weise. The works included in the show are all focused on wine, in its literal, historical and cultural implications, and include paintings on canvas, iPad drawings, a text in the form of notes and a publication, all presented in a site specific installation at Cascina Gilli, the Italian Summer venue of NEVVEN since 2019. Like Weise’s text the works were all produced in a free associative and rhizomic process where ideas and feelings, classical references and personal experiences are allowed to mix loosely and fade into each other, sometimes erotically, sometimes humorously, often both, like Ovid meeting Rihanna at a wine soaked vernissage. The show is the result of a two weeks long residency curated by NEVVEN in the scenic villa in Monferrato housing the awarded Italian wine producer Cascina Gilli.
Notes on Wine
A text by Charlott Weise
* * I hold my glass against the light and make my wine into a stained-glass window.
Among human artifacts, wine is unexcelled as a symbol of resurrection and the fertility of this world. Vino has been much transfigured in rituals, whether it’s the libations(1) of Dionysus & Bacchus, gods of ecstasy, or the communion of Jesus Christ, who said, “This is my blood, given for you.” Today it is Gaia whom we crucify. Thereby subverting an essentialist notion of the female body to nature. Gaia gives us our wine, our expression of terroir, our blood of the earth.(2)
The Cambridge Dictionary states on terroir: “The special character that a wine is thought to get from the particular place where the grapes were grown to make it: The French tend to talk lyrically about the terroir, the characteristics given by particular climate and soil, while Americans worship winemakers instead.”(3)Abstraction also is deeply tied to terroir in the French tradition of painting. Color, gesture, materiality are primary, imagery is secondary – that’s why Joan Mitchell’s work has been deeply accepted in France. Her favorite wine was Sancerre.(4)
Wine, liquidity and paint. I am reading about northern Italian vines, the Nebbiolo and its relative Freisa, which was always associated with the vineyards surrounding the town of Turin. These grapes’ dark velvety bodies look as if painted in smokey sfumato performed by Leonardo da Vinci, carrying metaphysical information. Typical aromas include: red cherry, blackberry, mountain herbs, minerals.(5) Prussian blue, Ultramarine, Crimson, Vermillion come to mind. Wine culture is so similar to that of perfume, and also that of abstract painting.
Dream 1: In a Dionysian sway, the divine has her again: In a metaphysical emotional moment, she imagined herself as a 1991 Vintage only waiting to be uncorked.
It seems alcohol is the only socially acceptable escape that still is left in our society and controversially it is the glue of the art world social fabric.(6) Drunk moms, sommelier selected wines on sale at Aldi. Letting loose. There is something connecting us with the ancient idea that wine is an elixir. I am thinking of sedimentation – and the unconscious, sinking to the bottom.
Altered states, pre-modern nightlife: the foundations of clubbing go back thousands of years to Mesopotamia, when people first abandoned nomadic lives to build and live in cities,(7) cultivate gardens, land and grow crops.
People probably have always looked for an escape from the social and behavioral constraints of the day. That’s what the dark of the night has always been about. I think of wine as a drink of the twilight. Entering the shadow side.
In the Bacchanalia, early Roman festivals, people celebrated Bacchus, the Greco-Roman god of wine and with him freedom, intoxication and ecstasy,(9) They soon formed mysterious cults connected to the dark side. I see paintings by Rubens, Titian and Velazquez: Satyrs & Fauns dancing in the forest amongst wasted men and women urged by bacchanalian priestesses to break social and sexual boundaries. A release party of tensions, appeasing their desires to feel connected to Bacchus and the pleasures mother earth has to offer. “My intention is to tell of bodies changed,” Ovid in Metamorphoses.
There is another god of wine according to Roman sources. Liber Pater is Rome’s equivalent to Dionysus and Bacchus (both of whom were sometimes titled eleutherios – liberator). Liber protected various aspects of viticulture, (male) fertility and virility; he personified male procreative power, which was ejaculated as the “soft seed” of the grape. His temples held the image of a phallus.(10) Together with Liberaheformed an ancient Roman god couple that specialized in the protection of the harvest.(11) And as Liber’s divine power was incarnate in the vine, grape and wine, he was offered the first, sacred pressing of the grape-harvest, known as sacrima.(12)
Cy Twombly also has been inspired by this cosmos. His Bacchus series are huge paintings with intense unembarrassed vermillion swirls of bloody red riffing off bacchanalian euphoria and its madness, (drunken) violence and war. In 1957 Twombly wrote in line with this spirit(s): “To paint involves a certain crisis, or at least a crucial moment of sensation or release, and by crisis it should by no means be limited to a morbid state, but could just as well be one ecstatic impulse”.(13)
Dream 2: Left a club atrociously besotted and took a seat on the curb next to Marie Jeanne, she was a tall magnum Bordeaux. That’s when Rihanna stepped out of a long limousine with a wine glass in hand. (The painting Purse, Phone & Wine inspired by Rihanna’s fashion of leaving restaurants with a wine glass).(14)
“It sure would be possible to construct an entire history of art considered solely through the prism of alcohol”(15) I’d love that. Words for being drunk from thesaurus.com: besotted, inebriated, intoxicated, boozed up, wasted, laced, flushed, lush, under the influence, juiced, totaled, sloshed, glazed. After all, the origins of viticulture remain somewhat mysterious. That’s why I believe that cave paintings have been performed in a drunken ritual. Ancient works of literature, like the Epic of Gilgamesh, are referential to wine, but it seems no one says where it came from! Nor do the ancient Egyptians offer an origin story for wine. They used the liquid to symbolize blood, and it is known that 26 casks of it – each labelled according to vintner, vineyard and vintage – were buried with King Tutankhamen.(16) He seemed to have preferred red. And after all the Bible credits Noah, a noted drunk, with planting the first vineyard, but it doesn’t say what inspired him to ferment grapes.
Visions of Wine
I imagine an Egyptian grave filled with carton boxes of wine. If death is a journey to the afterlife, then drinking wine is a transformational journey – une petite mort …
… alcohol’s magic is miraculous, for it transforms the most metaphysically capricious thing we have yet found in this universe: human consciousness. So I put on my wine hat and let my painting struggle through a drunken state. “Stomped grapes on canvas” – I am reading that if you want to bring out the grape’s most complex tastes and aromas, you have to make the vines struggle. Apparently the vine will get too comfortable if it’s got all it needs, it’ll focus on growing big and sprawling. So if you’re leaving the vine a little thirsty “it will focus its effort on reproducing itself sexually, which for a vine means making grapes.”(17) I am in the studio and I am thirsty too (Libido), and so I go and make paintings.
While drunk painting is too appealing, it nearly always goes wrong. Drunk woman, binge drinking, hysterical, in the mood for love, aphrodisiac potions lifting the spirit in spirits. That is how I go. I let myself loose on my notebooks, they are a dissertation, an experience.
NEVVEN is proud to present Triple 4, a solo show by Gothenburg based Swedish artist Olof Marsja, presenting a full-room installation which transforms the gallery in a temple-like space inhabited by his signature style anthropomorphic sculptures. This new body of work was imagined and assembled by picking in equal measure from Marsja’s Sámi heritage, contemporary 3D software aesthetics, ancient religions and children TV programs, in a freely associative process that questions with both humour and gravity, the concepts of authenticity, historicity and identity.
Four blown glass faces seemingly hover on the gallery wall while three life size figures dressed in capes take the centre of the room, all of them staring at the viewer, their features repeating, three in bronze and four in glass. These figures have a hauntingly sacred aura, they are dressed with dyed furs (an element dear to the artist for its deep connections to the Sámi culture), as much as with Gore-Tex technical clothing. Their build is composed of welded structures as much as by organic components such as alder wood, meanwhile each one of their faces appears in a play between its own features and its materiality bearing an expressive agency of its own. The relation with materials and crafts occupies a central role in Marsja’s practice as he associates their historical and contextual placement, and their aesthetic value in a manner that is ambivalent and permissive at the same time. He is playing with the idea of authenticity when silvering the glass, or attempting to give historicity to these objects by reiterating their features (as alluded by the exhibition’s title, Triple 4). Both of these operations seem to affirm that a tradition can be brought into existence without a past. The fluid meaning that Marsja attributes to objects and his tendency to discreetly add meaningful details to his sculptures, connects both to the animistic beliefs of the Sámi traditional spirituality, in which everything that exists in the natural world has a spirit and a life force in itself, but also to contemporary theories insisting on the intersubjective character of human and non-human relationships. Theories that aim to establish a new ontology that erases the existing barriers between human beings and animals and objects, between culture and nature. In his study intersecting object-oriented ontology and ecological studies, The Ecological Thought, philosopher Timothy Morton talks of the interconnectedness of all life-forms as a “mesh” made of ”infinite connections and infinitesimal differences,” a world not interconnected by a behind-the-scene mechanistic causality, but by a causality in-front-of the objects, as ”an aesthetic dimension of relations between objects, wherein sensory experience does not indicate direct access to reality, but rather an uncanny interruption of the false ontic equilibrium of an interobjective system.” Morton’s vision implies a counterintuitive and non-linear form of causality and interrelation between objects and our perception, and Marsja too, when associating Peppa Pig with animistic beliefs or Thomas the Train to a Mycenaean mask, seems to do the same. He follows a process ruled by an unfamiliar form of causality, by relations closer to naturalistic interpretations of our reality and to the entanglement informing such relations. And by doing so he manages to create objects that transmit an unexpected archeological feeling, a sense of historicity that has its roots in not one but many pasts, and in the present as much as in the future.
Olof Marsja’s Triple 4 faces us with a reflection on the meaning of history itself, on the painful acknowledgement of what denied memory means. And it does so with a strong sense of dignity, of monumentality, a stance coming not only from identity, but from the sense of belonging to a natural world ruled by a completely different set of ontological rules. This is what makes Triple 4 an archeological discovery within the present, where these sculptures, austere and serious, as much as light and silly, find a place that was already theirs from the beginning.
Comments Off on Derdi Dağlardan Büyük / Sein Kummer ist größer als die Berge
NEVVEN is proud to present Derdi Dağlardan Büyük / Sein Kummer ist größer als die Berge a solo show by Turkish artist Murat Önen presenting digitally a new body of paintings installed in the intimacy of his studio and apartment in Dusseldorf. In a show titled after the lyrics from an old Turkish song (which roughly translates in English as His Sorrow Is Bigger Than the Mountains), the exhibited works explore and question the idea of masculinity from a non-white Queer perspective. In these paintings masculinity is portrayed in both its attractive and repulsive sides, including the idealisation of the body, the struggle and desire for emotive connections, and the eroticisation of touch.
In Önen’s works, we see naked male bodies longing for closeness while struggling with their physicality, as if trying to adjust into a relationship with others but also with themselves. In the paintings, limbs, heads and torsos are rendered in their rounded tridimensionality, the bodies have a weight, also enhanced by the quantity of gym barbells intersected with them, a sort of heaviness that seemingly affects everything, even the clouds. The image of the mountain in the title is inevitably echoed by the masses of bodies merging into one another. Although not without art historical references, with compositions that remind of French Romanticism, Önen treats his figurative paintings as abstract ones, he works and reworks them, changing the orientation of the canvas, finding shapes in figures and vice versa. The narrative suggested by figuration is in fact present but not central. What Önen aims to convey with these emotionally charged pictures is closer to a feeling, a sensation that involves more senses than only the sight, that is as tactile as touch can be and that engages with the body as much as with the mind. Derdi Dağlardan Büyük evokes a sense of struggle for intimacy which is both bodily and emotional at the same time.
Alina Vergnano & Mattia Lullini
NEVVEN ON SITE is a format of exhibitions that wants to question and expand both the classic ideas of art show and the artist’s agency in the curatorial process. Using the possibilities given by the digital dissemination of artistic contents, the artists are invited to conceive not only a body of new works for an exhibition but also to define an off— site setting in which the works are installed and documented. These exhibitions are non—viable to visit in person and would be impossible to fit a gallery space. The goal is to expand the program of the gallery and the possibilities of the invited artists, specifically their control over, not only the shown works, but the very environment in which these works are presented and their perception. NEVVEN ON SITE is a regular program of 6 exhibitions per year that from May 2020 sidelines the regular events hosted by NEVVEN’s gallery space in Göteborg.
NEVVEN is proud to present Pale Echo a solo show by Vienna based Lithuanian born artist Vika Prokopaviciute, presenting a new body of paintings in a site specific installation where the subject matter adapts and responds to the architecture of the gallery in a scientific and lyrical interpretation, physically engaging with the viewer through what could be defined as a synaesthetic abstraction.
Prokopaviciute is a painter but started her instruction studying at the Samara University of Architecture and Engineering in Russia. She then moved to Vienna where she studied at the University of Applied Arts and where she started her career as an artist. The works included in Pale Echo started as a reflection on the symmetrical nature of the palindrome NEVVEN and on the physical phenomena of echo and reflection. Inspired by the architectonic peculiarities of the gallery space, where thin and tall doors are juxtaposed to peculiarly large heating elements and an imposing window, each work made by Prokopaviciute is the result (as usual to her practice) of a method, a structured system that she invents and then almost scientifically applies to her works. Here, each painting is grounded on the one preceding it, and each painting analyses the context in which is to be placed and the very instruments used to make it. Pale Yellow was the first work to be executed and it stemmed from a previous painterly investigation on the actual brushes used by the artist, but now those brushes are deformed in a symmetrical representation, reminding faintly of the gallery’s window top and tall radiators. The following painting, Purple Pale Pale, takes this subject and replicates it juxtaposed to a form which now clearly depict the heaters, only to be ulteriorly deformed by the following and final large work included in the show, Pale Pale Circle, which seemingly mixes the previous two and creates a passage, a circle that placed by the entrance door of the gallery symbolises and pictorially recalls it. Completed by the small format works titled FN (as for footnotes), these works are not only connected in their subject matter, but placed in the space mirroring each other and surrounded by the very features that inspired them, in an effect that amplifies and reifies physically what was symbolically represented in their execution. The acoustic phenomena is here turned visual in a painterly synaesthesia.
Through the use of perfectly complementary tones, the idea of mirror and reflection is further developed in a more intricate metaphor. As a mirror that reflects the reverse image of the beholder, in this visual echo chamber the primary yellow meets violet as its opposite and at the same time its double. Mirrors reflects but also deform and deceive, as much as the echo is a physical phenomenon but also source of illusion and delusion. It is no chance so that at the core of this show for the artist there are not only methodologies but also ancient mythologies. Echo was the mountain nymph turned capable only to repeat the words spoken to her because of the curse of Hera, jealous of her husband Zeus in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She fell in love with Narcissus but never managed to express such affection, while watching Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection and eventually being destroyed by it. Pale Echo is all this: a circular process of love and wrath, an almost destabilising play of mirror between reflections and methodologies in which nature, feelings and science mix with the mathematics of colours and the simple abstract language of these paintings, physically affecting our perception, while playing with our minds and maybe our hearts too.
“’It’s funny about love’, Sophia said.
‘The more you love someone, the less he likes you back.’
‘That’s very true,’ Grandmother observed.
‘And so what do you do?’
‘You go on loving,’ said Sophia threateningly.
‘You love harder and harder.”
(Tove Jansson, The Summer Book)
NEVVEN is proud to present A Different Kind of Love a solo show by Danish artist Aniara Omann presenting digitally a new body of sculptural works installed in the luxuriant off—site setting of a forest outside Glasgow, UK. Inspired by the oneiric settings of Early 1900s Nordic children illustrations, such as the work of Elsa Beskow, Omann installs her newest sculptures, mixed media accrochages of ceramics, eco-resin, moss, felted wool and silicone, in the setting of a forest and in the shadows, hidden niches and meadows where only a curious child would look for them.
These ceramic creatures, mysterious and benevolent looking, are staged in what the artist imagines as a mixture between a far in the future world and a parallel reality to our own time. The main difference between our society and this powerfully evocative one is relational, and it deals with the idea of love. In this context love is not although taken as the shared common meaning of this term in nowadays world, Omann wants instead “to suggest a kind of future way of living and loving, that goes beyond the ways we have been taught through our collective conditioning” and places this utopia in a green and lush future that somehow reminds of the travels, reflections and atmospheres of Wells’s novella The Time Machine. It is peculiarly on point, then, the strong connection between these works and science fiction and the political undertones of both this exhibition and the best results of this literary genre. Science fiction has always harboured such mighty creative potential: allowing us to contemplate possible realities and relations. To imagine the future of mankind mirrored by the sociopolitical and inter-relational analysis of the present, and looking “beyond our current societal structures and formats” is precisely what Omann asks us to do by looking at this exhibition.
NEVVEN ON SITE is a format of exhibitions that wants to question and expand both the classic ideas of art show and the artist’s agency in the curatorial process. Using the possibilities given by the digital dissemination of artistic contents, the artists are invited to conceive not only a body of new works for an exhibition but also to define an off— site setting in which the works are installed and documented. These exhibitions are non—viable to visit in person and would be impossible to fit a gallery space. The goal is to expand the program of the gallery and the possibilities of the invited artists, specifically their control over, not only the shown works, but the very environment in which these works are presented and their perception. NEVVEN ON SITE is a regular program of 6 exhibitions per year that from May 2020 sidelines the regular events hosted by NEVVEN’s gallery space in Göteborg.
SONG OF SPIRIT:
To the deep, to the deep, / Down, down! / Through the shade of sleep, / Through the cloudy strife / Of Death and Life; / Through the veil and the bar / Of things which seem and are / […] Where there is One pervading, One alone, / Down, down!
(Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound)
NEVVEN is proud to present Family Affair a solo show by Brussels based French artist Carlotta Bailly-Borg, presenting a new series of works, where sinuously drawn wire-like forms, knotted and twisted, occupy five tall linen stripes hanging from the gallery walls, reminiscent of ancient Japanese scrolls. Inscribed onto these wires are the artist’s signature-style anthropomorphic and non-gendered figures, crawling towards each other or swooshing directionless, in tiny groups or alone, describing a complexly interwoven bodily metaphor and a reflection upon our own selves as isolated beings and our collective nature.
As typical of Bailly-Borg, who effortlessly blends history and cultural references in her multi-media, yet drawing based practice, in Family Affair different symbology are richly intertwined. The first and most apparent one is the knot, central in every and each one of the works composing the exhibition, the knot is a symbol recursive in the most different cultures, modern and ancient, to represent either life or death, liberation or eternal bounds, and nowadays foremost connected to the idea of forming a relationship, as it is the case for the expressions ’nouer une relation’ in French or ’to tie the knot’ in English. And, while each painted knot might symbolise a relation in itself, these works, hanging close together, form a group, a family, a community between themselves. Furthermore, with titles like Passive-Aggressive, Frustrated or Passionate, this body of work, reveals an interest for interpersonal relations, where the knot becomes a signifier for neuroses, for the twisted, complex inner nature of human beings. In his Ethics, Spinoza defines the concept of bondage to passions (or subjection) as the human’s ”lack of power to moderate and restrain the affects”.Accordingly to the philosopher the mind cannot command the body, but instead three basic affects govern its actions: desire, joy and sadness. These affects are at the origin of every possible positive or negative emotion, and consequent action. The bodies that Bailly-Borg draws seem moved by the Spinozan affects too, by unrestrained basic emotions, desires. They are twisted by their wanting, as they search for each other, taking over all the space available, their mind a natural extension of their limbs. If in the artist’s previous series these anthropomorphic characters were often barely contained by the surfaces’ edges, in these works the space they inhabit is further restricted, almost claustrophobic. What at first appeared as wire, as knotted string, at a closer glance morphs into a negative space, a tunnel, a bodily cavity, a uterus. And in this realisation another symbology reveals itself, as in Bailly-Borg’s words: “the small figures inside the wires are like incrustations. They are like an echo, a reminiscence coming from a kind of collective memory. Night dreams. They travel like the unconscious. They dig. Pass through these digestive tracts. Wedge into the corners”. The bodily implications of the show then become clearer, the spaces these anthropomorphic creatures inhabit belong to a body, and by travelling its cavities and depths they communicate and connect, as inter-bodily resonances, blurring the boundaries between the self and the group, as if part of a collective mind, or a collective body.
This concoction of metaphors, eventually brings to mind the definition of liquid modernity by Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, ”in a liquid modern life there are no permanent bonds, and any that we take up for a time must be tied loosely so that they can be untied again, as quickly and as effortlessly as possible, when circumstances change”.In Family Affair, Carlotta Bailly-Borg seems to reflect too upon this concept, translating it into images sensuous and grotesque at the same time, showing us these bonds dissected, as in an ancient scientific tableaux, while, at her pleasure, she tangles and untangles the slippery strings of desire, that, woven together, define our nature.
Comments Off on Hender og Flasker og Pærer (Vasse)
NEVVEN is proud to present Hender og Flasker og Pærer (Vasse), a solo exhibition by Norwegian artist Marianne Hurum. The show features two new paintings and a sculpture presented the off-site setting of an empty pool in Oslo, Norway. The exhibition is part of the NEVVEN ON SITE program.
Inspired by well known historical precedents, like the famous Hockney’s underwater pool decorations, Hurum chooses to place the artworks in an environment characterised by the presence of water, which resounds with and enhance the fluidity of her marks and the organic shapes of her sculptures. By placing, or better displacing, the works in such environment, the artist digs deeper in the connection between the fluidity of the painterly gesture and the actual properties of water, which involves an investigation on both the physical sensations induced by water in the body and the artistic sensibility involved in capturing such subject.
The pool becomes a metaphor for the painterly gesture, as man-made as the brushstrokes are, it contains the water as its properties remain unchanged. In Hender og Flasker og Pærer (Vasse), which is the Norwegian for: hands and bottles and pears (wade), the objects appear as seen through water, through a fluid patina, like how one sees things when opening their eyes underwater. Hurum’s skilfulness and her uncompromisingly playful approach, are the ones of an artist who does not like to observe from above, but instead prefers to dive in, or wade through, immersing herself into the subjects she explores.
NEVVEN ON SITE is a format of exhibitions that wants to question and expand both the classic idea of art show and the artist’s agency in the curatorial process. Using the possibilities given by the digital dissemination of artistic contents, the artists are invited to conceive not only a body of new works for an exhibition but also to define an off— site setting in which the works are installed and documented. These exhibitions are non—viable to visit in person and would be impossible to fit a gallery space. The goal is to expand the program of the gallery and the possibilities of the invited artists, specifically their control over, not only the shown works, but the very environment in which these works are presented and their perception. NEVVEN ON SITE is a regular program of 6 exhibitions per year that from May 2020 sidelines the regular events hosted by NEVVEN’s gallery space in Göteborg.
Comments Off on Ode to the Shitty Situations and Tragicomic Events in an Artist’s Life
NEVVEN is proud to present Ode to the Shitty Situations and Tragicomic Events in an Artist’s Life, a solo show by Italian artist Michele Gabriele, presenting an installation of his hyperrealistic signature style sculptures, using both his personal story and pop culture to question the nature of memory and sensorial experience in the post digital contemporary world.
In the book entitled The End Of Time: The Next Revolution in Our Understanding of the Universe, theoretical physicist Julian Barbour writes: “We do not see things as they are but as the brain interprets them for us.” Thus he tries to explain how time is perceived in a reality that is – accordingly to his theory – a timeless succession of separate moments, where past and future are just an illusion. In an artistically declined way, the works of Gabriele seem to assert the same and add to this assumption a question more: in such reality, what remains real? Masterly using synthetic and organic materials, resins and mechanical components, the Italian artist has been exploring throughout his whole career the border between art and fictional reality, between philosophy and pop culture phenomena, leaving behind a scary, irreverent and humorous trail of sculptures and memorable installations. The materials employed, defined and treated by the artists as ‘hyper-materials’, become instrumental to portray reality and its illusions in a way that wants to appear ‘more real than reality itself’. This specific approach to materiality and hyperrealistic figuration lies at the core of the artistic language used by Gabriele, and at the same time it is where his practice detaches the most from the tradition of hyperrealistic sculpture. The Italian artist, uninterested in the portraiture of the visible world as-it-is, presents us with a realistic portraiture of a surreal world, which is augmented and hypertrophic, similar to the reality and virtual experiences proper of contemporary pop culture, video games and movies. Gabriele’s sculptures materialise digital reality into the real world. They are grounded in an unique sensibility about digital experience and materials, their symbology and meaningful existence as fictional and real objects – which brings to mind Object Oriented Ontology – and intersects philosophical and psychological questions through idiosyncratic discourses.
The works included in Ode to the Shitty Situations and Tragicomic Events in an Artist’s Life start from the personal story of Gabriele as an artist in Italy. Conceived initially as a sort of monument to the worst or ‘most tragicomical’ experiences in his professional life, these sculptures, upon further investigation, conceptually yield a reflection on the way in which our memory and experience function, their validity and corruptibility. The pieces become symbols of a past no longer needed to be remembered, or maybe, no longer possible to be remembered as it really happened. The unintelligible text in the manuscripts, meticulously created by the artist, brings with it glitching memories, important to be preserved yet lost in their specificity, seemingly ancient, yet stored in shattered, futuristic containers. This series, at the core of the exhibition, is completed by It’s Always so Hard to Admit That Things Are Different Than What We Had Believed at First Sight. The sculpture, featuring two Velociraptor’s heads, invites us to take even a step further and possibly question the foundations of reality itself. Here Gabriele is showing not a corrupted memory from the past (or the future), but a distorted image from a surreal possible present. These figures, replicas of the creatures in the movie Jurassic Park, look plausible to our eyes as a consequence of our familiarity with one of the most viewed movies of all time, and with this conundrum Gabriele – together with physics – humorously leaves us to question our perception of reality, memory and experience in the contemporary post digital world we live in.
Comments Off on Liquid Crystals Rose Upon Your Lips
NEVVEN is proud to present Liquid Crystals Rose Upon Your Lips a solo show by Taiwanese artist Chin Tsao featuring a new body of sculptural works presented digitally in the intimate off—site setting of her apartment in Vienna, Austria. Inspired by the historical context and the aesthetics of Art Deco, Tsao uses porcelain, one of her main materials of choice, to create a new body of work that in her intentions wants to re-interpret the style and optimistic frenzy of this modernist movement, to adapt it to a very personal portrayal of the changing narrative of our times.
The act of reinterpretation charges the artworks with new meanings, as it ontologically questions the rejection of the past and blind faith in the future characterising Art Deco. Through the use of a material with such a long history as porcelain, Tsao materialises the contemporary digital aesthetics of our times in an intriguing contrast where the relations between future and past, between nowadays and the times of the art movement she’s appropriating are playfully and conceptually confused. Art Deco becomes futuristic and rétro at the same time. Tsao places then the results of her research into the very environment in which she has been spending most of the year 2020, her apartment. There, the dim light illuminates these fascinating artefacts of semi-organic shape while they lie in room corners or on the naked body of the artist herself. Looking at these works in this familiar, protective, yet slightly claustrophobic environment, we can’t avoid to wonder how to venture again ’out there’ and into the future and if, somehow, in the modernist inspired shapes and in the smooth and luscious surfaces of Chin Tsao’s sculptures, we can really find the optimism we need for it.
Chin Tsao’s (Taiwan, 1989) art practice uses sculpture, installation, music and performance as style bending instruments where multi- media objects are able to take organic and nightmarish forms while playing with meaning, interpretation, power-roles and history. Her works are classic and futuristic at once, reminding of old science- fiction. Her art delicately brings to mind how even the visions of the future can become part of our past, and how history itself can turn into a sharp tool of investigation of our current times. She obtained a MFA at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna in 2017 and was exhibited (among others) at Künstlerhaus Klagenfurt (2020), Whitedwarf Projects (Vienna, 2020) and Parallel Vienna (with a solo presentation in the ’Artist Statement’ section, 2019). Chin Tsao lives and works in Vienna, Austria.
NEVVEN ON SITE is a format of exhibitions that wants to question and expand both the classic idea of art shows and the artist’s agency in the curatorial process. Using the possibilities given by the digital dissemination of artistic contents, the artists are invited to conceive not only a body of new works for an exhibition but also to define an off— site setting in which the works are installed and documented. These exhibitions are non—viable to visit in person and would be impossible to fit a gallery space. The goal is to expand the program of the gallery and the possibilities of the invited artists, specifically their control over the very environment in which the works are presented and their perception. NEVVEN ON SITE is a regular program of 6 exhibitions per year that from May 2020 sidelines the regular events hosted by NEVVEN’s gallery space in Göteborg.
NEVVEN is proud to present Belgian Techno, a solo show by Belgian artist Stevie Dix, presenting a stark and imposing installation, centred on two of her largest paintings to date, dealing lyrically with the rediscovery of intimate memories, her youth in her native country and the roots of her political activism.
After living most of her adult life in South-Eastern England, Dix latterly moved back to Belgium. The move has been so recent that the works included in this exhibition, albeit started in Great Britain, are the first she completed after resettling and, as one might imagine, this change deeply informed the subject matter depicted. In the past years, Dix’s heavily materic paintings have already been concerned with an idiosyncratic research into a specific set of memories, linked to her native country and late adolescence. Her latest series was focused on close up depictions of shoes and drawn its inspiration from memories of the artist’s adolescence in Brussels and Antwerpen. These shoes – rendered in her personal painting style, where objects rise to symbols or embody cryptic metaphors – channeled the memory of wet streets and the first city-experiences of the artist as a young adult, in strikingly powerful paintings. But, if those works often lingered on the aesthetic surface and poetry of such memories, with Belgian Techno, Dix seems like venturing further into the analysis of this specific moment of her life. Using text – a new addiction to her works – and more complexly developed compositions which juxtapose diverse elements in tableaux reminding of rebuses, Dix digs deeper into her subjects. The starting point is the rediscovery of her native region, Limburg, the remote part of Flanders where Dix just moved back to, and a culturally and historically unique place in Europe. Not far from the famous Forest of Ardennes – where Germany was fought off by the Resistance at the end of World War II – a beautiful natural landscape, green and bucolic, coexists in stark contrast with the heavily industrialised city of Genk. The region, once popular among landscape painters, was radically transformed by the coal extraction industry at the beginning of the twentieth century and became later famous for producing some of the most extreme techno music of the 80es and 90es. It is in the dark tones of this former coal-mining area and of the musical Belgian subcultures that we find ourselves staring into when looking at the two large format oils on canvas composing this exhibition. And through this dark patina, we discover fragmented recollections from Dix’s own upbringing: walking on wet grass with platform shoes, lying down on a field in the early morning with the ears still ringing from a techno party, the loud memories of a night of extreme music, styles and tuned cars. But, together with these emotionally and visually charged reminiscences, something more seems to have seeped out of her memories. A heavy and dark rebellious feeling irradiates from these works. Dix seems here to depict the rediscovery of the moment in which, as a young adult, she chose to resist and reject a reality made of social impositions and stereotypes. Pier Paolo Pasolini once wrote: “We are tired of becoming forcefully a serious / Or satisfied youth, either criminals, or neurotics: / We want to laugh, be innocent, expect / Something from life, demand, ignore. / We do not want to be already so fast so sure. / We do not want to be already so fast without dreams”. It is in these feelings and in the natural passage from youthful rebellion to political awareness that these works gain a renewed complexity and, at once, relate the most with the currently turbulent historical moment we are living in Europe.
While After Night of Belgian Techno lyrically immortalises the rebellious influence of counter-cultures and the defiance of teenage years, La Résistance 1 celebrates Dix’s grandmother role as a partisan in the Belgian resistance during the war. These two works together depict an entanglement where emotions and ideas are indistinguishably intertwined, reminding of the deep connection between the personal and the political. A heartfelt homage to both rebellion and activism, Belgian Techno brings to mind the words of Antonio Gramsci: ”I hate the indifferent. […] Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan […] Some whimper piously, others curse obscenely, but nobody, or very few ask themselves: If I had tried to impose my will, would this have happened?”
Comments Off on The Naked Girl Walking Backwards Like Crayfish
NEVVEN is proud to present The Naked Girl Walking Backwards Like Crayfish a solo show by French artist Chloé Arrouy featuring a new body of sculptural works presented digitally in the off—site setting of a cavernous basement in Brussels. The exhibition is part of the NEVVEN ON SITE program.
The show takes its name from an ancient Medieval pagan ritual carried out in Europe until at least the 11th century. In periods of drought, this magic ritual entailed bringing a group of young girls led by a virgin to a meadow outside the village where the henbane plant (Hyoscyamus niger) grew. The virgin was then stripped of her clothes and ritually picked the herb, which is a powerful narcotic, together with the other girls, following specific gestures. The ceremonial was completed by bringing the virgin to a river where the bewitchment was performed, using twigs of the herb, hoping to make rain fall. Sources narrate that the sortilege was concluded then by the girls escorting the naked virgin back to the village by hand “walking backwards like crayfish.”
The show investigates the idea of pain, and in particular torture and the ancient objects crafted for such purpose. Arrouy’s sculptures explore the capacity of akin artifacts to evoke a sensation of pain in the viewer by their sheer sight, and an ontologic quality that the French artist individuates in physical and imagined suffering. “[Pain] raises some very existential questions for me: is suffering the sign of existence? In pain, we feel ourselves, physically, emotionally, is that what makes us alive?”, asks herself Chloé Arrouy and, with The Naked Girl Walking Backwards Like Crayfish, she lyrically asks us too.
Chloé Arrouy’s (France, 1993) art practice deals with the concepts of torture and magic in the popular European Medieval culture, which she uses as tools to investigate – formally and idiosyncratically – existence, sexuality and culture. Her material of choice is metal, which she rusts, burns and overworks to create ominous and fascinating objects, that often recall ritual or torture tools. She often juxtaposes her sculptures to material-based abstract paintings, installatively expanding the language of her mysterious works in metal. Arrouy holds a MFA from ERG in Brussels and has exhibited (among others) at Alice Gallery (Brussels, 2019), Jakob Kroon Gallery (Worthing, 2019) and at Biennale de Belgique (Gand, 2019). Arrouy lives and works in Brussels, Belgium.
NEVVEN ON SITE is a format of exhibitions that wants to question and expand both the classic idea of art show and the artist’s agency in the curatorial process. Using the possibilities given by the digital dissemination of artistic contents, the artists are invited to conceive not only a body of new works for an exhibition but also to define an off—site setting in which the works are installed and documented. These exhibitions are non—viable to visit in person and would be impossible to fit a gallery space. The goal is to expand the program of the gallery and the possibilities of the invited artists, specifically their control over, not only the shown works, but the very environment in which these works are presented and their perception. NEVVEN ON SITE is a regular program of 6 exhibitions per year that from May 2020 sidelines the regular events hosted by NEVVEN’s gallery space in Göteborg.
Our own possessions — though our own — ‘Tis well to hoard anew — Remembering the Dimensions Of Possibility.
Emily Dickinson (J1208)
NEVVEN is proud to present Dimensions / Of Possibility, a group show featuring new paintings by Anastasia Bay and Lisa Lundgren meeting an interactive video by Matthew Lessner and a monumental sculpture by Emelie Sandström. The show is presented as a full room installation in which diverse classical artistic techniques are juxtaposed to a video run by a prototype generative algorithm and stirring different proportions are brought together in a choral yet clashing experience.
On the large canvas by Anastasia Bay featured in the show, we are confronted with two towering figures emerging from a flat field of colour. The absence of a clear setting for this scene —which is a typical aspect of the French artist’s practice— reminds us of Minoan frescos and Egyptian ceremonial images. Are these characters —which often appear in couples and deliberately bear no recognisable physical traits— doubles, twins or two parts of the same identity? Is one of them meant to prevail or will there always be two? The sketched line that delineates their forms suggests and embrace a nature in formation, which retains possibility into its own essence. Matthew Lessner presents us with a video installation focusing on a portion of his ongoing 7 year project In Anticipation of the Unexpected (2015 – ). A program has been designed to dynamically assemble hours of filming material ad infinitum by combining user input with elements of early phase Artificial Intelligence (AI). The footage part of this iteration of the project was filmed between 2017 and 2018 in Stockholm and Prague and a generative algorithm —which is currently still under development— presents it in a user controlled experience in which no viewing can be the same. As we look we wonder, have these eerie and creeping variations the same reality value of actual experiences? Musil writes in The Man Without Qualities: «A possible experience or truth is not the same as an actual experience or truth minus its ’reality value’ but has […] a readiness to build and a conscious utopianism that does not shrink from reality but sees it as a project […]». Possibility, in Lessner’s installation, is the fluid foundation for reality to be built upon. Oppositely, Lisa Lundgren’s small canvases bear a stillness that reminds the one of metaphysical paintings, as Apollinaire defined the deserted squares and steeping arcades drenched in unreal light and disquieting stillness painted by Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico. Also in Lundgren’s paintings we find uninhabited landscapes that escape time and geographical placement. The recurring presence of theatre curtains painted as a second frame inside the painted surface, enhance the sense of displacement that her works suggest. These small canvases open up as stages, in a momentary abandonment as in absence of actors, but still bearing the full tension of something that has happened, will happen or can happen. A sculpture by Swedish artist Emelie Sandström overlooks the whole exhibition. It represents a pair of absurdly tall creatures, with bodies made of over two meters lathed wood pillars and a bronze face as head, with horns and a wooden pony-tail. The sculpture has a mystical and goddess-like presence. Are they guardians or queens of this realm we are exploring? The lathing process employed to carve the wood is based on the rotation of a tree trunk around an axis, to create a symmetrical object. Maybe it is the reassurance of symmetry against the chaos that draws us to this sculpture, as we ask her to keep us centred while we embrace the beauty and the scare of the infinite possibilities lying ahead.
The exhibition conceptually found its onset from the paradoxical idea of possibility as a multi-dimensional notion, to which Dickinson in one of her typically cryptical poems refers to. Albeit the diverse and contrasting interpretations that critics give to this passage— if we read this possibility as the potential for infinite realities to manifest, we are immediately confronted with one of the elemental concepts of art and life: the monstrously unlimited possibilities in translating the immaterial into reality, the dimensionless into surface. In another poem (J 697) Dickinson writes: «I dwell in Possibility—» as to suggest its role, as in the availability of infinite choices and variations, in making vision into existence. In Dimensions / Of Possibility, four visions emerge and all of them bear a measurable amount of reality within.
NEVVEN is proud to present Alles in Seinen Rahmen a solo show by German artist Erik Esso featuring new wall based sculptures presented digitally in the off—site setting of an abandoned industrial complex in Leipzig. The show is part of the NEVVEN ON SITE program.
Alles in Seinen Rahmen —Everything in its Frame— is a double meaning phrase in German. It refers both to the frame in its literal sense and to an idea of belonging to a determined context or place. This multifaceted concept is explored by Esso through a new and complex series of works that clashingly mixes new media, like effect foil, with intimate vintage photographies. The works are documented in the surreal setting of an abandoned industrial complex of VEB Jutespinnerei Texafol in Leipzig, Germany.
How much our identity and personal history is determined or influenced by our connection to physical spaces? What happens to us when we leave a place behind and what happens to a place when it is left behind by us? A black and white picture of a young woman lays upon the futuristic, space—age looking surface of Der Ernst Ist Zuhause. Discovering that it is a portrait which belonged to the artist’s grandfather just layers more the complexity of this work, which is already trying to extend and confuse the concept of another kind of history, the one of the painting format. Esso doesn’t bother to give many straight forward answers but yet leaves the viewer with many questions. Some of them worth of further investigation, especially today.
Erik Esso’s (Fulda, 1999) artistic practice challenges the concept of painting by using found objects, metal, concrete, plastic, wood, photography and drawing —everything that can extend a little further the medium. The German artist produces wall—based objects that resemble yet reinterpret the idea of painting while embodying a question and an exclamation mark at once. Esso is currently completing his degree at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and has exhibited at Warbling Collective (London, 2019), Delphian Gallery (London, 2018) and Till Richter Museum (Buggenhagen, 2017). Erik Esso lives and works in Leipzig, Germany.
NEVVEN ON SITE is a new format of exhibitions that wants to question and expand both the classic idea of an art show and the artist’s agency in the curatorial process. Using the possibilities given by the digital dissemination of artistic contents, the artists are invited to conceive not only a body of new works for an exhibition but also to define an off—site setting in which the works are installed and documented. These exhibitions are neither viable to visit in person nor conceived to fit a gallery space but accessible only as a web presentation on NEVVEN’s website. NEVVEN ON SITE is a regular program of 6 exhibitions per year that from May 2020 sidelines the regular events hosted by NEVVEN’s gallery space in Göteborg.
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NEVVEN is proud to present The Thicker the Woods, the Vaster the Vista a group exhibition featuring a selection of new or previously unseen works by an international and intergenerational group of artists close to the gallery. The first extraordinary event hosted by NEVVEN during the ongoing health crisis.
The show wants to take the chance given by this special moment in history and the forced hiatus imposed to the gallery’s program to juxtapose a new generation of uprising Swedish artists with some of NEVVEN’s favourite established practices worldwide. To use this unexpected time and space to create connections between practices that never crossed before, while allowing a reflection upon the questions brought to all of us by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Island where all becomes clear. Solid ground beneath your feet. The only roads are those that offer access. Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.
The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here with branches disentangled since time immemorial.
The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple, sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.
The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista: the Valley of Obviously.
If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.
Echoes stir unsummoned and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.
On the right a cave where Meaning lies.
On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction. Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.
Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley. Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.
For all its charms, the island is uninhabited, and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches turn without exception to the sea. As if all you can do here is leave and plunge, never to return, into the depths.
Into unfathomable life.
(Wislava Szymborska, 1976. Trad. by Claire Cavanagh)
NEVVEN is proud to present Discrete, a solo show by Sara Anstis presenting new works on paper, ceramic sculptures and a site-specific pastel mural that transforms the gallery space and carries the viewer into the intriguing realm where the personal mythology of the Swedish-Canadian artist takes shape.
The characters of Sara Anstis’s works are feminine, often alone in nature, nude and liberated in their exuberant sexualities. In the scenes depicted by the artist they appear almost momentarily frozen, as if they were unexpectedly caught, or peeked at, in a moment of sensual intimacy or quirky daydreaming. This voyeuristic feeling derives partly from the fact that Anstis has, in the past, studied social groups as a sociology student and is herself a curious observer of her own characters, but also simply from the magnetic and fascinating otherness of this fantasy world which we are invited to peek in at.
In a piece in the exhibition, one of the figures’ breasts elongate to pick a flower from the soft earth while they simultaneously catch butterflies with their ass cheeks. In other works, their legs can turn into mermaid-like fish tails and the exaggerated labia and curves of these characters emanate a joyful and unconstrained desire which —as the artist describes it— can only be created out of a bodily knowledge of sexual pleasure and the power this brings. And power is a key-word in these representations. The depiction of subjectivity, nudity and sexuality that the artist presents us with is empowering and free from social constraints, therefore refreshing and at the same time exhilarating.
In Sara Anstis’s works the viewer can find a narrativity and an oneiric atmosphere that clearly brings to mind the Greek and pan-Mediterranean mythology of Odysseus and Ulysses, or better of Venus, Circe, Scylla and Ceto. These ancient myths resound with us alongside the artist’s desire to create a mythology of her own. In Greek mythology, gods were wild, powerful and driven by desire; they acted out of instinct and feeling, sensuality and compassion and so do the characters in Sara Anstis’s works. Free and empowered, desiring and tender, they are caught mid-action in an intimate realm and inscribed into a masterfully drawn new mythology that is both idiosyncratic and capable of addressing crucial contemporary questions. They grace us with the strength of their nature as they present themselves: untamed and marvellous, busy and tender, aroused and empowered by their own glorious and inspiring freedom.
NEVVEN is proud to present Withering Postures, the second solo show by Swedish artist Fanny Hellgren with the gallery, featuring a new body of wall based works in paper pulp and a steel mesh sculpture, furthering and enriching of new perspectives her material—based research and intimate artistic vocabulary.
The few, pondered works which compose Withering Postures, deal with depth and detachment with the subtle yet existential themes underlying Fanny Hellgren’s approach to art since the beginning of her career. Materials are exhibited naked, in their frailties and strengths, and allowed to speak to the viewers unmediated, in a soft and simultaneously determined way.
The concept of rediscovery and active reevaluation of poor materials and common objects characterising the Arte Povera movement, its detachment from Minimalist and Conceptual Art’s scientific methods for a more mythical and mysterious approach to art resonate with the Swedish artist’s practice. Yet, the presence of a personal and intimate level in Fanny Hellgren’s research detaches her works from the political preoccupations of the historical art movements on which her practice is rooted, making her art distinct, timely and cogent in our contemporary. Speaking through the marks left by her own body on the raw materials and allowing the materials’ agency in an organic and intuitive process, the delicate voice of her works approaches the viewer with an openness, non—intrusiveness and quiet soberness which is rare and precious nowadays.
Rusty and brutal metal versus delicate almost dissolving paper, the force and tension of the steel bent under the body weight of the artist clashing with the withering, creasing surface of the pulp and pigments. Fanny Hellgren’s art speaks through opposites and extreme juxtapositions, it describes tensions and delicatenesses, and while it allows the viewer to explore and interpret, guides her with a strong and mature vision. Withering Postures captures Fanny Hellgren’s practice at a crucial point, it fulfils the promises of her previous series while opening the way for exciting future developments. A state of transition that reflects the one captured in her works, a moment of stillness in between ever—changing states of existence.
We are thrilled to announce that Got It For Cheap and Velvet Ropes is coming to Göteborg for a two day only event on October 12th and 13th at NEVVEN. Got It For Cheap makes art accessible to aspiring art collectors and fans, gives up and coming artists a platform for getting their art into the hands of fans or art aficionados while celebrates the the local art scene which will be featured heavily in this two days event.
Works in A3 format from an extremely selected list of internationally acclaimed artists from the previous editions, with an addiction of fresh works from the best artists from Göteborg will be sold for just two afternoons at only 1.000:- kr (+ VAT). Works in A4 format from a selection of the best uprising artists in Göteborg plus the works coming from the previous editions in Sweden, Norway and Europe will be sold for only 300 kr (+ VAT).
The policy will be “first come, first served” so don’t be late!
Past editions have included Drake Carr, Constance Tenvik, Kristian Touborg, Morgan Blair, Canyon Castator, David Risley, Charlie Roberts, Idun Baltzersen and more. The complete list of artists included on the Göteborg edition will be announced soon.
In 2018, Velvet Ropes has been held at NADA Art Fair in New York, David Risley Gallery in Copenhagen, Art Athina Art Fair in Athens, Pt. 2 Gallery in Oakland, Galleri Golsa in Oslo and Patrick Parrish Gallery in New York.
NEVVEN is proud to present Artifacts a group exhibition curated by Swedish artist Joakim Ojanen. The show focuses on artworks depicting objects and uses this timely and peculiar subject matter as the outset for a survey on contemporary painting.
The idea for the exhibition was to collect some of my favourite painters in the same space. Like most people I’ve always been fascinated by objects, from the mobile spinning over me when I was a baby to marbles, action figures, pogs, lighters, clothes, fidget spinners, figurines. One or a few obsessions at a time for as long as I can remember. What is this? What is it good for? How did they make it? Why did they make it? How does it feel? How much does it weigh? Ever since my interest for painting started, one of my favourite motifs are painted artifacts. Man made objects that you could tell meant something to the artist who painted them.
The action behind the representation of objects by means of other objects (and specifically painting) is one of the earliest forms of art and at the same time an operation that strikes tensions and relations between the objects, their artistic corresponsives and creators which keeps intriguing philosophers and artists alike. It recalls Object—Oriented Ontology, its concept of allure and the questioning of the relations between subject/object and animate/inanimate. It’s also as simple as the Pokémons or each one of the collectibles, found objects or memorabilia that fascinates people since the dawn of times and even more in nowadays consumeristic society.
Vetted by Joakim Ojanen’s vision and sensibility and including artists from England, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United States — Artifacts brings together an exciting and intergenerational group exploring and playing with the possibilities of objects in painting and paintings as objects.
NEVVEN is proud to present XXX a solo show by Belgian artist Tom Volkaert, exhibiting a new body of sculptures in epoxy, clay, concrete and silicone that inaugurates NEVVEN’s new gallery space in Göteborg. The exhibition is also part of the Extended program of the 10th edition of Göteborgs International Biennial of Contemporary Art (GIBCA).
Tom Volkaert depicts in remarkably composite sculptural constructions an abnormal fauna of creatures and totemic objects which are puzzling and mysteriously fascinating. The complex and sometimes even repelling representations, produced by the Belgian artist’s seemingly boundless creative élan vital, have a humorous and talismanic quality. His sculptures are constantly mixing contemporary visual references, science fiction atmospheres, horror thrills and characters which seem borrowed from hallucinated comics. At the same time, these works are able to channel a rich idiosyncratic expressive need in forms which are timely and compellingly engaging with contemporary aesthetic trends. The artistic language of Tom Volkaert is equally driven by an inexhaustibly experimental approach to materials. Exploring raw substances’ limits and possibilities, refusing classic processes and often mixing very different media in works that becomes technical chimeras — the research and uncontrolled manipulation of materials are fundamental aspects to Volkaert’s practice, often interestingly determining the sculptures’ shapes and convoyed contents.
For his exhibition at NEVVEN, Volkaert is presenting his newest epoxy large scale sculpture — towering two meters tall as a colourful and hyper-detailed slimy totem — and juxtaposes it to a new series of elegant black monochrome works in mixed ceramics. The title, XXX, seems to perfectly resume, in its fascinating elusiveness, the complex nature of this body of work and of his art in a broader sense. Exquisite and brutal — XXX presents a new step in Tom Volkaert’s fascinating, humorous and technically outstanding practice.
Pastoral Psychedelia is a solo presentation of sculptures and works on paper by the Oslo based American artist Charlie Roberts. All the works were be produced during a two weeks long residency on the scenic villa in Monferrato housing the awarded Italian wine producer Cascina Gilli.
The term psychedelia takes its significance from the union of the two Greek words ψυχή (psykhé) and δῆλος (dêlos). The meaning of the the locution dêlos encapsulates something mystical and extremely strong. Not far from the more archaic definition of the Greek word aletheia, whose most accurate translation would be unveiling—its significance is deeply linked to the primordial act of revealing. In these circumstances, what is revealed, explained, clarified, unfolded, opened is the psyche, the energy and vital force on which the concept of being is grounded. The stratification of being in its different physical states seems like finding in this term an extremely effective explication.
The crazed work of Charlie Roberts, composed of an obsessive and vast imaginary which allows the persistence of abstract models and primitive brutality next to soft lines and seducing figuration, seems able to encapsulate the deepest meaning of the term psychedelia. Giving to the viewer a complex perspective whose references are at once aesthetically contemporary and based on fundamental art historical sources—his work ushers a lysergic experience as a medium to investigate a multiplicity of cultural aspects, whose visual expression becomes a catalyser and irreplaceable manifestation of such intersection. This multiplying force, this compulsive energy carves through the sculptural works by the artist; and under this light all acquires a different substance. The bi—dimensional eclecticism characterising Charlie Roberts’ pictorial works finds renewed strength in this more materic and ancient process, that suggests inspirations which are pastoral and idyllic, yet of a brutal feverishness that is well transposed by oak’s tenacity.
Bathed in light was the island of Delos when the god of Sun was born on its shores; bathed in light is as well the matter which manifests vividly a psyche which is broadened and metamorphosed by the contamination of techniques and styles elaborated as twisted bulrushes.
Domenico de Chirico, 2019
Cascina Gilli Via Nevissano 36, 14022 Castelnuovo Don Bosco (AT) – Italy Google Maps Telephone: +39 011 987 69 84 GPS coordinates: N 45,06462° E 7,96366°
Nevven is proud to present Spirit Farm a solo show by Swedish artist Emelie Sandström, presenting a numinous and poetic body of new sculptures in bronze and stained glass.
There is something primitive and difficult to locate, temporally or geographically, in Emelie Sandström’s sculptures. Forged like talismans or amulets, sacred—looking like artefacts from an unknown religion — they emanate a mysterious and fascinating aura. The cultural and historical references that the viewer can find in these works are broad and eclectically fuse together medieval iconography and science fiction, religion and magic, primitive art and virtual reality. These sculptures are distilling contemporary aesthetics and trends, yet upon further analysis they yield a richer nexus of political and idiosyncratic interests.
Deeply connoted historically, stained glass is an element which mankind connected recursively with religion, as a metaphoric portal and mean of communication to the spiritual realm and the otherworldly. The Swedish artist uses stained glass as a symbol and a way to not only represent, but instead numinously evoke the subjects dear to her and at the core of Spirit Farm. These sculptures stem conceptually from the anxiety empathically felt by the artist in connection to the spiritual aspects of animal—slaughtering, from the fear she feels for the spirits of these beings killed only in function of mankind. These concerns profoundly inform the works included in the exhibition and it is a deep care — which borders religiosity — that is evoked and reified by the Swedish artist.
Hanging from the ceiling with beautifully worked chains as giant pendants, or balancing on the ground with thin metal legs, these stained glass sculptures cast their colours in the gallery space, creating an atmosphere which is oneiric and spiritual at once. Symbolically evoking the spirits of these animals to which she is so sympathetic, the bronze and stained glass sculptures with which Emelie Sandström composed Spirit Farm put the viewer in contact with an otherworldly realm which is poetic and evanescent, yet reminding of poignant ethical questions of nowadays’ world.
Nevven is proud to present Twinkle Toes a solo show by American artist Devin Troy Strother. For his first exhibition in Sweden, the Los Angeles based artist is transforming the gallery into a library and communication centre, where — alongside books and printed material — a new video, paintings and a performance are presented.
Twinkle Toes is an English phrase for someone who is a good dancer. Evoking the idea of graciously moving from a technique to another, yet also including the possibility of comically stumbling while attempting — Strother uses dance as a metaphor of his practice as an ever—expanding and evolving body of work. The formats of his art have recently been shifting from installation, painting and sculpture towards print, video and performance, but the themes at the core of his research remain consistent. Devin Troy Strother is continuing with Twinkle Toes his investigation into art—history, humour and language, focusing on the role of performers and entertainers which American culture has historically assigned to African—Americans. From the days of slavery, with cakewalks and minstrels, to the blues (from which rock and roll originates) and modern—day professional athletes, actors and musicians — Strother identifies in the history of black American culture the foundations of what is generally known as ”American Culture” and places this concept at the centre of his whole artistic research.
The gallery space is transformed by an installation focused on Coloured Publishing. Founded five years ago by Devin Troy Strother and designer Yuri Ogita, the publishing company has been producing a vast array of informative material, books and objects as a utilitarian and performative project dealing in an unconventional way with relevant thematics in art and society. The whole Coloured poster and book archive is presented, turning the gallery into a dedicated space for the viewers to expand their knowledge on topics of race, performance, language and image.
At the core of Twinkle Toes is a new video work. The moving picture is a recent endeavour in Devin Troy Strother’s practice and it seems to be a logical development of his research into the role of black Americans as entertainers. Video offers him also a chance to humorously and dramatically bring forward his ongoing practice of using the very stereotypes about African—Americans to appropriate the fetishisation, co—option and commodification of black people’s representation, especially in culture. The video is taken from an ongoing series called The Black Nauman and is directed and edited by the artist in collaboration with Thomas McMahan. Reminiscent of David Hammons and Bruce Nauman — who is quoted in the series’ title — the video is starring Strother himself, actively confronting the public in the role of the performer.
Lastly, the performance part of Twinkle Toes aims to combine the whole into an ephemeral experience. Re—enacting one of the videos from The Black Nauman, Strother dances durning the opening reception, in his underwear and following a different music tempo than the one the audience can hear. The effect is a conflicting and alternate experience in which the artist physically takes the role of the black American entertainer at the core of his artistic research. With Twinkle Toes, Devin Troy Strother embarks in a new path which integrates and advances his classic art practices, activating with renewed humour and intelligence his ongoing thematics and offering a thought—provoking perspective on American culture.
Nevven is proud to present Gossamer Threads, the first solo exhibition in Sweden by American artist Emma Kohlmann, featuring a selection of her poetic and erotic watercolours and ceramics.
With her work, the American artist explores the worlds of eroticism, sexuality and feelings creating images which are delicate, sensual and movingly intimate at once. The watercolours flowing on the paper, guided by her brush, define the edges of soft shapes which she delicately identifies, intervening on the wet surface with Sumi—ink and turning them into bodies, plants, animals or poems. As they blur into the surface, these lines and shapes remind us of the fluidity intrinsic to all, being, gender and existence itself — in a representation which is both metaphorical and phenomenological.
Kohlmann has a seemingly relentless approach to creation. Driven by a urge that makes her an extremely prolific artist, her work appears as a necessary output for everything her attentive eyes, ears and hands absorb from the world outside. With roots in the DYI punk culture, self— publishing and fanzines — the joy of creating something for the pure pleasure of creative exchange emanates still from her work. When it comes to her subjects and semiotics, Kohlmann embraces the body in its imperfections, desires, and frailties. She exposes it in its entirety, overcoming the taboos that normally inform its depiction, therefore making it political. Her figures — human, animal and vegetal — morph into each other in a communion which feels like physical and metaphysical at once. With her touching representation of sex and desire, she offers us a different and tender perspective on sensuality, as source of empathy and profound connection between beings. Art historically, Kohlmann’s art is informed by greco—roman erotica as much as it brings to mind references ranging from the naive expressions of Henry Darger to the use of tropes and techniques which remind of Louise Bourgeois. Nevertheless, her personal approach to timeless myths, poetic literary references and personal erotic narratives makes her voice unique.
With Gossamer Threads — the term is used to define the fine and flimsy spiderwebs covering grass or bushes especially in Autumn — Emma Kohlmann is delicately taking over the gallery with a new body of watercolours and bi—dimensional sculptures which remind of ancient artefacts, hanging on the walls like amulets or dreamcatchers, shrouded with an aura of primitive magic and bodily wisdom. The artworks communicate alone but even more interconnecting with each other, as ancient hieroglyphs portraying the multifaceted interiority of a poet and her connection with the outside world through her mind, eyes and flesh.
Nevven is proud to present Aww Yeah! a solo exhibition of new paintings by Slovak artist Martin Lukáč.
Neither fully figurative nor completely abstract, the paintings by Martin Lukáč are unruly and elegant. Repetition is fundamental in his practice. The Slovak artist’s series are built upon the iteration of straightforward powerful graphic elements and abstract ideas. Sometimes the result is purely abstract and expressionist series. More often, figurative features, like fictional characters and appropriations from popular culture, are brutally superimposed to the elaborate backgrounds — in an act which is both of defiance and exaltation of the abstract quality of the works.
A pirate face is repeated in most of the paintings featured in Aww Yeah!. Quickly traced with oil—stick over the otherwise abstract and gestural canvases, the nature of this character is enigmatic, defiant and ironic at the same time. What this pirate symbolises is deliberately left open to interpretation and misinterpretation, as it is of no concern to a rebel what people might think of him. The nihilism and the disruptive power of this character emerge in the fast paced, obsessive repetition in which it is portrayed and sometimes erased. Its ubiquitous presence and self—assertion stand as a provocation and a dare to the viewer.
This series, which is presented for the first time in this exhibition, is combined with new takes on older works and with the introduction of formal elements unprecedented in Lukáč’s paintings. The long—lasting series of Ninja Turtles’ portraits is reinterpreted with textile interventions, which are appearing for the first time in his practice — hinting to the artist’s interest and current collaborations within the fashion world. The works in this show, emboldened by colourful, heavy frames are exhibited in an experimental and maximalist installation overturning and overpowering the gallery space.
Aww Yeah! is a kaleidoscopic burst. A rich semiotic field that strongly reflects the creative urge behind this new body of work, in which the artist is introducing both technical and thematical new elements. Aww Yeah! is an immersive experience, in which Martin Lukáč wants to overwhelm the viewer with the unruly nature of the installation and its reckless and provocative protagonists.
Curated by Alina Vergnano and Mattia Lullini, co—founders of the gallery and public art endeavour Nevven, for the historical Gothenburg’s dance and art venue 3:e Våningen — Never Even features six artists, from six different countries, working with six diverse and uniquely strong artistic languages, in what wants to be the first instalment of a program of group exhibitions.
Neither about balance nor coherence, Never Even is about the richness that comes from the challenges and compromises necessary to keep things that are so different under the same roof. In a moment in time and history in which diversity is seen as a threat and fear is used to push us towards more and more homologated and closed societies, this exhibition wants to celebrate the beauty of the unexpected connections that inevitably originate when we are instead confronted with variation. In our society as much as in the Swedish art—scene there is a clear need for more openness and space for diverse expressions, cultures and generations. Never Even wants to channel the excitement that only a dialogue within different voices can create and metaphorically shape it in the form of a choral exhibition. One next to the other, the works in this show grow together and on their own, enriched and affected by each other’s presence. They remind us of the importance that multiplicity has over conformity, openness has over protectionism, discussion has over monologue.
Juxtaposing and counterposing, challenging and consequently expanding its own vision and the one of its public has been the mission of Nevven since day one. The hope is that it will be reflected in this exhibition featuring six of the most representative, yet diverse artists that have worked with the gallery in the past four years.
As the first exhibition of 2019, Nevven is proud to present Hypnagogia a three—person show featuring a selection of sculptures by Frederik Næblerød, drawings by Claire Milbrath and paintings by Alice Visentin.
Hypnagogia is the transitional state in between wakefulness and sleep. At the border between science and occult, this experience of threshold consciousness is where idyllic experiences such as lucid dreaming and hallucinations take place, but also where terrifying phenomena as sleep paralysis occur before the onset of sleep. Proven to exists yet uncharted in its possibilities, the hypnagogic state is a place of beautiful dreams and terrible nightmares, a kaleidoscopic realm where our subconscious touches our woken mind with unforeseeable and often uncontrollable results.
Italian artist Alice Visentin is exploring the possibilities of painting with her unique and larger then life depictions of mysterious and mystical characters, which recall ancient statues coming to life. The figures she paints inhabit what seems to be a timeless dream, playing musical instruments or dancing, wearing clothes from another time and place, while surrounded by a luxuriant, alien nature. From the depth of this oneiric scenery Visentin’s characters emerge like higher beings, inviting us to join them and lose ourselves in their own dream.
Claire Milbrath is a Canadian artist using drawing and painting in a style informed by various naive artists of the past, especially in her disregard of perspective and classical rendering of the human forms. Her work is obsessively centred around a character and alter—ego that she calls Poor Gray. Aimless, wealthy, anxious, effeminate and rendered as an angelic blonde figure in often dreamy settings, Gray is used by Milbrath to explore concepts of gender, masculinity and power—systems in satyrical, erotic and oneiric depiction.
Danish painter and sculptor Frederik Næblerød is depicting a realm where monsters, goblins, hyper—sexualised anthropomorphous beings, sea creatures and unfriendly visitors from outer space thrive and roam in a seemingly eternal darkness. Næblerød’s art is powerful, playful and direct. He is able to reinterpret classic media as oil on canvas or earthenware sculpture into new experiences, bending and twisting their rules and properties for the only purpose of better serving his seemingly limitless imagination. Dark and often terrifying, his sculptures and paintings are a journey into a nightmare, fascinating and humorous, savvily crafted yet intuitively created.
Hypnagogia wants to symbolically place the different practices of these three young artist in this obscure yet so fascinating territory of the mind; on the thin edge within dreams and reality. In January, the middle of the long and dark Scandinavian Winter, Hypnagogia hopes to be an atypical and immersive experience. Where Claire Milbrath, Alice Visentin and Frederik Næblerød, whose diverse works transcend the expectations and schemes of our woken mind, temporarily transform the gallery in a place of fantasies, dreams and nightmares.
As the final exhibition of 2018 before Winter break, Nevven is proud to present Mask a solo exhibition by the Stockholm—based Norwegian artist Idun Baltzersen, featuring a new selection of her signature style monumental textiles and sculptures.
Baltzersen’s work is characterised by an intimate yet size—wise intimidating depiction of defiant yet elusive young women, dressed in hooded sweaters, with braided hair and Converse shoes and carved out from dark, deep, backgrounds. These female characters, often faceless or portrayed from the back, become part of huge textile collages, in which their portraits are sawn together in surreal and beautifully daunting human landscapes. These young women are together yet also alone, insecure as much as protagonists, magnified and monumentalised by the artist, in an attempt to temporarily subvert society’s power roles.
Baltzersen carves her characters into huge plywood boards, in a process that is an agonising and physically demanding confrontation with a material that inevitably resists the hand. Every work is therefore the result of a dialogue and somehow a compromise with the surface, a welcomed struggle for control where the artist embraces the physical resistance of the material as an essential part of the process. Both the carved boards and the resulting prints on fabric, bear all the traces of this painstakingly complex process. Every cut in the surface has a different energy and depth and together they compose figurative images that, if seen from close up, become abstract wooden landscapes made of thousands of small traces. These boards, after being used as printing plates, are also often exhibited individually or cut and re—assembled as sculptures.
In Mask, Idun Baltzersen presents a new body of work created appositely for the exhibition and resulting in an immersive installation featuring two monumental textile collages and a sculpture. The colour black, which has characterised her past production and its dark atmospheres, leaves some more space to colours. We see blues, reds and pinks appearing from within the cuts in the wooden boards composing her sculpture. And again, these colours are used, in a darker shade, in the textured backgrounds of her textile works; from which the figures emerge from the seams and the overlapping fabrics. Mask is a unique occasion to literally step in and lose oneself into the dark yet magnetic universe that Idun Baltzersen carves out from wood and populate with women. An homage to female power, presence and body, today and in history, incarnated in women martyrs, heroes or just brave young girls going through life.
We are thrilled to announce that Got It For Cheap’s Velvet Ropes is coming to Göteborg for a one day only event on October 27th at Nevven Gallery. Velvet Ropes is an expansion on the typical Got It For Cheap model making art accessible to aspiring art collectors and fans, as well as giving up and coming artists a platform for getting their art into the hands of fans or art aficionados. Works in A3 format from an extremely selected list of internationally acclaimed artists from the previous editions, with an addiction of fresh works from the best artists from Göteborg will be sold for just one afternoon at only 1.000:- kronor + VAT. The policy will be “first come, first served” so don’t be late.
Past editions have included Drake Carr, Constance Tenvik, Kristian Touborg, Morgan Blair, Canyon Castator, David Risley, Charlie Roberts, Idun Baltzersen and more. The complete list of artists included on the Göteborg edition will be announced soon.
Nevven is proud to present Driftless, the first solo exhibition in Sweden by the Wisconsin—based fine art documentary photographer Jason Vaughn. Focused on the scenes, settings, and characters of everyday life in Midwestern America, Vaughn’s photography captures this rural and peripheral area of the United States in a way which is at once scenic and deeply reflective.
The American’s latest series, which is at the centre of this exhibition, explores the concept of stability and the contrasting desires of becoming lodged somewhere and breaking off. Right after the birth of his second child and recovering from leukaemia, of which he was diagnosed in 2011 at age 32, Vaughn found himself living temporarily for one year in La Crosse, a small community in the Mississippi River’s Driftless Region. Wrestling with the desire to settle down and the feeling of being just in transition, fascinated by the symbolisms connected to the river landscapes which are depicted in this series — Jason Vaughn has explored symbolically how people drift, become entangled somewhere often by pure coincidence, and occasionally — but not always — break free.
There is a rare quality to Vaughn’s photography. With his work he is able to abstract universal themes and feelings from the simplest images and to deeply touch his viewers transcending their knowledge or cultural comprehension of the depicted subjects. An abandoned carpet — entangled in the tall grass next to the Mississippi riverbed — poetically becomes part of a landscape which beautifully includes it, both chromatically and metaphorically. A boat appears through the deep mist and temporarily takes centre stage — we could almost hear its rattling sound in the thin cold winter air — just to quickly disappear again, fading as a vision in an otherwise barren landscape.
In the photographs included in Driftless — a series expanded in the book of the same name published this September by TBW Books — we perceive a constant sense of floating, a delicate metaphor of the clash between the impermanence of anything in life and our natural tendency to strive for stability. We believe that Jason Vaughn is able to channel these existential feelings in this selection of astounding photographs of apparently small and irrelevant details of everyday life in Middle America. With their sheer beauty of form and composition, the pictures included in Driftless are able to carry us elsewhere and leave us beautifully entangled between images and thoughts.
Nevven is proud to present You Made Me the first solo exhibition in Sweden by the Berlin—based artist Jenny Brosinski. Characterised by a striking gestural abstraction, intermitted by hints of naive figuration, her work deals in a unique way with canvas. Brosinski paints on raw cotton then tumble dries her paintings causing them to fade and react in a way that escapes her control. She proceeds then by marking their surfaces with charcoal, oil—sticks, markers, spray—paint or oil in a fast and intuitive process that often leaves stains of dirt, chlorine or coal on the canvas. These marks contrast and at the same time blend into the overworked yet almost vanishing surface of her works, still bearing all the energy of an immediate, instinctive gesture.
Jenny Brosinski is an educated painter, she masters her technique and her media, yet in her process she does everything possible to erase her advantage and surprise herself by responding to the unexpected. Her paintings, in the faded and stained surface of the canvas, carry all the traces of this process. The moments of action and release, the phases of addition and then erasure, the instinctive gestures and the thoughtful layering are all contained in the contrast between the washed—away colours and the bright and strong tones which characterise the final interventions. Brosinski completes her works with ironic and intimately narrative titles whose day—to—day nature recalls the captions of social—medias’ posts and expands the significance of her often abstract paintings.
The selection of new works on canvas presented in You Made Me describes Jenny Brosinski’s practice in what the German artist considers as a moment of culmination after the recent founding years of her career. In You Made Me Brosinski stops to reflect, thankfully, over the importance of all the supporters, social—media followers, art—collectors, galleries, institutions and — why not — the coincidences which made her work recognised. It is in this added significancethat she wants us to approach the canvases included in You Made Me, which, ranging from her usual extra—large format to extra—small, and including some new installative solutions, play with and subvert the perception of the spaces they hang within.
From August 23rd to September 16th and as the first exhibition of a new season of shows, Nevven is hosting the three—person exhibition A Minimal Relief. Whether it be in the form of mosaics of roughly crushed wood—boards, of organic textures of handmade paper, or over—detailed moulded acrylic paintings on canvas, the exhibition will showcase and highlight the common ground between the practices and the intersections between three current series by Clemens Behr, Fanny Hellgren and Dominic Terlizzi.
After his 2016 solo show with the gallery — Nevven is pleased to exhibit again Clemens Behr. Known for his ephemeral sculptures and monumental installations of raw building materials, Behr’s approach to abstract three—dimensional forms is ironic, personal and savvy. For this exhibition, Behr presents a new wall—based sculpture featuring an abstract collage of wood—panels. Rough and elegant, this work could be taken as brief summary of the German artist’s production in its timeless grace and brutal nature.
After her first solo show with the gallery in Fall of 2017, Fanny Hellgren contributes to this exhibition with a wall—based installation from a series of paper sculptures which furthers her research into this material. To create these new works the Swedish artist dissolved cardboard and newspapers in water in order to reshape them into large slabs of handmade paper. Micro—tonally coloured by the remains of the fibres recycled into them, imprinted in textures both incidentally and deliberately, the results are imposing yet weightless organic surfaces which resembles wrinkled and delicate layers of skin.
Along with these two artists, Nevven is proud to introduce for the first time in Sweden the Baltimore—based artist Dominic Terlizzi. In a painstaking and meticulously long process, the American artist uses acrylic paint as moulding material in order to create extremely complex, mosaic—looking, reliefs on canvas. The subjects of the figurative compositions which results from this process are playful, ironic and humorous, yet at the same time elegant in such an effortless way that makes Terlizzi’s works unique in their own genre. For A Minimal Relief, he presents a selection of new monochrome moulded acrylic paintings on canvas.
The hope is that this exhibition will enable the viewers to experience the quiet elegance these three artist share in their most recent wall based sculptural works. Antithetic in their process, they are connected in a shared uncommon approach to materials, which they bend with elegance and subtle irony while altering their function or appearance. We believe that — regardless of their differences — Clemens Behr, Fanny Hellgren and Dominic Terlizzi have found each other on a common ground in the latest results of their practices. A Minimal Relief tries to capture this convergence, letting these three artists lyrically enhance and mirror each other through their exhibited works.
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“Jag känner en utsatthet när jag vistas i naturen. Naturen skrämmer mig och jag bearbetar rädslor när jag tecknar” (Jeff Olsson)
There is something out of place in Jeff Olsson’s art. His delicate charcoal drawings are magnificent and magnetic, yet never reassuring nor at peace. They depict a world which is dark and tense when quiet, and humorous, grotesque and violent when action takes place. It is a realm where lonely raving lunatics ride vast plains and solitary wild animals haunt the dark wilderness.
Soaked in a strong Americana flavour and deeply inspired by Finnish Tango, Jeff Olsson’s art embraces these two peculiar cultural phenomena of the Nordic culture. The love for anything Americana stems from the history of migration to North America during the XIX Century and it has become part of the folklore in Swedish rural culture. The Tango, imported in Finland at the beginning of 1900, has developed into a genre of its own and it’s now fully part of the Finnish tradition. Olsson’s depiction of these traditional imaginaries is imbued with a strange sense of nostalgia resulting in a bewildering, fascinating and melancholic vision.
This acquired folklore helps to understand where this artist from the small town of Kristinehamn finds his visual alphabet, but there is something more at play in Olsson’s drawings. Something metaphysical and inhuman, scary and suspenseful dominates and humorously rules his dark and mostly black and white artworks. A cowboy and a bird overlay in a symbolic metamorphosis – are we witnessing a transformation or is it the manifestation of a spiritual connection? The natural and human worlds intertwine in Olsson’s art as a metaphor for an intimate conversation. In fact, it is Jeff Olsson own emotional, dark and comic self that comes through in this often nightmarish fairy realm.
He Was Grooming Someone Else’s Horse is a manifesto of this approach. The evocative title, which alludes to the conflict existing between ownership and caring, brings forward again an animal symbol in a rural setting. Once more a visual figure of speech becomes for Olsson a way to share an intimate question. He Was Grooming Someone Else’s Horse is also his first exhibition in his hometown Gothenburg since 2009, an emotional reunion with the city he is working in and a new occasion to explore further the humorous and dark realm that Jeff Olsson depicts for us.
Jeff Olsson (b.1981, Kristinehamn, Sweden) lives and works in Göteborg. He is educated at Valand Art Academy (2003-2008) and he had solo exhibitions (selected) at Galleri Magnus Karlsson in Stockholm (Sweden, 2018), Linköpings Konsthall (with Joakhim Ojanen, Sweden, 2016) and Jack Hanley Gallery in New York (USA, 2013). He has been included in group shows at Gothenburg Museum of Art (Sweden, 2015), Strandverket in Marstrand (Sweden 2015), Konsthallen-Bohusläns Museum in Uddevalla (Sweden, 2014), Garemijn Hall in Bruges (Belgium, 2012), Needles and Pens, San Francisco (USA, 2010), Göteborgs Konsthall (Sweden, 2008) and Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm (Sweden, 2008). He was exhibited also in fairs as Market Art Fair (Stockholm, 2014), Chart Art Fair (Copenhagen, 2014), Frieze Art Fair (London, 2013) and The Armory Show (New York, 2012 and 2011). He Was Grooming Someone Else’s Horse is his first solo show with Nevven Gallery and his first solo exhibition in Göteborg since 2009.
“I love the way [oil paint] moves, smells, looks. I never actually mix impasto or anything with my paint. I joke and say it’s blasphemy. My work is built up of pure, out of the tube, oils.” (Stevie Dix)
Stevie Dix is part of a new generation of uprising young artists whose work is driven by a renewed interest in challenging painting’s traditional expressive possibilities. The astounding quality of this UK based Belgian artist’s production is also an important reminder of how regrettable the absence of a female perspective upon this field has been until now. With her personal, spontaneous yet extremely aware approach to oil painting, she embraces the qualities of this traditional medium while bending it into a language of her own.
Dix’s paintings are deeply gestural, informal, thick and dirty. The energy of the paint strokes still vibrates in the materic texture of the canvas. In this almost sculptural approach to painting, that is wild and controlled at once, we can sense the profound attraction and relation she has with the material she is working with. It is hard to stop looking at this moving surface breaking through the flatness of the canvas.
Figuration and abstraction come together in a sometimes harmonic, sometimes brutal juxtaposition which characterises Dix’s production. A boot, a vase, a bird or some brushes materialise from the still consistently abstract surface. These everyday objects are giving us recognisable glimpses of the personal and intimate universe inhabiting her works while the Belgian artist’s sense of composition creates a tension in the balance of the paintings which reflects their emotional charge and makes them reverberate with that same turmoil.
Dix’s faculty to personally and consciously appropriate the language of oil painting and her ability to intimately communicate through its thick materic surface are fully demonstrated in Désert. The new series of oils on canvas, appositely painted for this exhibition, is minimalistic and stripped to the essential. With these paintings Stevie Dix speaks through light clusters of everyday objects, which float on the materic yet bare surface of the canvases, metaphorically mirroring a fascinating inner landscape.
Stevie Dix (b.1990, Belgium) lives and works between Suffolk and London in the UK. She had solo exhibitions at The Journal Gallery’s Tennis Elbow in New York (USA), The Cabin in Los Angeles (USA) and Rod Barton Gallery in London (UK). She has also been included in group shows at Plus One Gallery in Antwerp (Belgium), Carlsberg Byens Galleri och Kunstsalon in Copenhagen (Denmark) and Louis 21 Gallery in Mallorca (Spain). Désert is her first solo show with Nevven Gallery.
”I am a sculptor. I am a waterfall, and it’s pouring out of me. It turns the flow that I’m in, into streams, into shapes. Into shapes of norms I want to break. From the first minute my hands touched clay — It was doomed to fail, my work is the survivor. Someone once asked: What’s at risk? I want to build Rome in one day. Every day. I’m aware I always push it. My sculptures and their compositions balance between sudden death or survival. The sculptures can barely hold their posture straight, and they have to hold their breath. I’ve for long tried to step away from the right and wrongs that society place on me. I found a place where I’m in charge. It’s too late to become someone else. I will continue to transform feelings into shapes, and add some smell and taste too. I’m careful of the moves my hands do, I treasure intuition. Clay is my material. Clay and I work hand in hand. Clay is my greatest friend and comfort. Together we try to understand. We use each other as we go through time. Clay can carry itself in a way no other material can, and Clay carries me too.” (Anna Tedestam)
Anna Tedestam is a sculptor by true vocation. Her medium of choice is clay, with which she has a visceral creative relation. Through a flow of emotions, she digs for symbols in this earthly material to transform feelings into shapes of ceramic, porcelain, stoneware and plaster — often mixed together. For Tedestam clay is the material from which she can build an alternative world, a place that speaks her own personal truth.
The intricacy of her sculptures reflects an intimate and vital cycle of finding and building, of pure observation versus active creation and reinterpretation. She explores what the material offers her and she bends its characteristics into impossible architectures and into a dance of unbalanced colourful shapes.
The series of sculptures presented in Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner! — her first solo show ever – is crawling with symbols and stories, humorous and mindful at the same time. Anna Tedestam masterfully manages with her work to transcend the stillness proper of sculpture as her creations become alive in their deliberate imperfection and in the visible traces of the intuitive, unconstrained process behind them.
Anna Tedestam (1991, Uppsala) lives and works in Stockholm where she is currently attending the Master program at Konstfackt University of Arts Crafts and Design. Her work has been exhibited at Stockholm Affordable Art Fair 2017, at Köttinspektionen in Uppsala, at Liljevalchs in Stockholm and at Galleri Småland in Alvesta. Tedestam has completed a public commission in 2017 for Strängnäs, she is currently working on a show with Art Nou Mil.lenni Gallery in Barcelona (Spain) and on a new public commission for Lidingö. Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner! is her first solo exhibition with Nevven Gallery.
It is since the rise of Abstraction at the beginning of the past Century that the relevance of figuration in Contemporary art has been debated, often leading to long periods of neglect. But even when disregarded as outdated, unintellectual and almost trivial, figuration rhythmically kept on returning stronger and more revolutionary than the very revolutions which tried to bury it. Its directness and its capacity to communicate and to convoy the ideas, trends and aesthetics of the contemporary world have proven countless times that figuration will always have a part to play in the art world.
If we look closely at the most relevant new directions in American art right now, it is clear how figuration has come back and it is actually in full swing. It can be hidden in seemingly abstract compositions as much as it can be so obviously central in a work of art to become borderline illustration. The artists which are part of this new figurative wave like to play with this kind of boundaries mixing digital aesthetics, comic characters and classical painting. The result is a multitude of directions with one point of connection, the newness and renewed relevance of an art which speaks again with images.
Jonathan Chapline is one of the most intriguing figures among these emerging figurative artists. He analogically paints and sculpts still lives taken from a digital yet oneiric world, which fascinates the viewer with the soft light and unnatural stillness of their suspended atmospheres. Chapline — together with illustrator Lorraine Nam — is also the founder of the online platform #FFFFFFWalls. Since 2012 they interviewed some of the best emerging and established artists in New York and their website has allowed their followers to have unique insights into this ever—growing artistic scene. For these two reasons Chapline plays a key—role in this exhibition, both as participating artist and as the curator behind this variegated and thoughtful survey.
#FFFFFFiguration is an investigation into figuration, a journey through eleven very different yet intertwined approaches to it. We can get lost following the hypnotic and intricate hair’s patterns of one of Julie Curtiss characters, we can discover images under the almost abstract paintings of Ted Gahl and Sarah Faux or observe the digital world meeting our own in one of Michael Dotson artworks. In this exhibition we can find comics as in Clayton Schiff’s drawings, glittery rainbows as in Hein Koh’s soft sculptures and we can enter the surreal landscapes and blurred still lifes populating the works by Jennifer J. Lee. Classic figuration is reinvented as in the paintings by Zuriel Waters and Andy Pomykalski while painted words merge into the overworked surfaces of Alicia Gibson’s oeuvre. With #FFFFFFiguration Jonathan Chapline offers us an insight into some of the utmost captivating new ways of figuration in New York right now.
Pablo Tomek is not an artist coming from graffiti, he is a graffiti writer and an artist. The two practices proceed in parallel, in osmotically interacting ways: his art affects his graffiti, questioning the form and aesthetic of his tags and pieces, while his experience of the streets fuels his studio work with concepts and approaches otherwise unthinkable. In his art practice, he borrows tools, materials and supports from street workers. Sponges — as the ones used by workers to cover up windows — take the place of brushes, glass substitutes canvases while stained protective plastic (the ones normally placed on floors when painting) and found objects take the place of sculptures.
It is not a simple switch in materials we are witnessing in Tomek’s work. It feels that this passage holds something more conceptual and complex than a stylistic idea. We find in this artistic endeavour a strong connection to a blue-collar’s approach, to humble but mastered skills and the effectiveness learned by endless repetition. It is not a coincidence then that in graffiti the achievements of a writer mostly come from reiterate exercise and practice, which is what allow to combine style, effectiveness and quickness together.
Elevating practical skills to art creates a turn in perspective, which brings down the theoretical substantiation of an artist’s practice while exalting the quality of art as a practice humbly rooted in hard work. Tomek’s art is able to bring not only this refreshing approach but also the actual street, with its workers’ tools and aesthetics, inside the elitist space of a gallery. He achieves this through artworks which are immediate and thoughtful at once, able to make us rediscover the poetry of gesture and its capacity to convey feelings and emotions.
The expressiveness of gestures is what the French artist pointed out in many occasions as striking him especially in the sponged windows you can see so often in French cities. In his opinion the stroke used to apply paint to cover windows involuntarily channels a feeling — or an energy — that comes from the person executing the work. It is no surprise then that Tomek’s paintings and works on paper have been often connected to abstract expressionism, as the rough force and powerful gesture behind their execution clearly speaks an intimate language through abstract communication.
In Mixed Messages the French artist brought for the first time his art to Sweden giving us the possibility to explore this complex practice. A new series of monotypes on paper convoyed his latest experiments, mixing his abstract works with hints of figuration which he describes as coming from the walls and his experience of the city. This show and the works in it allowed us to step inside Pablo Tomek’s artistic realm which extends from the studio space to the worksite landscapes of the ever-growing and over-gentrified French capital. An artistic landscape which is intimate, puzzling and attractive at once and that in Tomek’s hands has become the right lever to splendidly overthrow the rules of both worlds of graffiti and art.
“Fanny Hellgren’s material investigations have led her to acquire a method of artistic inquiry integrating objects, performativity, and text. She undertakes archival and material research, and makes field expeditions to glean from the built environment forms and accidental encounters that inform different aspects of her object based installations. Her exploration of the built and natural environments reveal her intimate, idiosyncratic, and quietly humorous perspective on the logic and illogic of human behaviour.” (Jeuno Je Kim, Senior lecturer at Valand Art academy)
Fanny Hellgren creates her works by exploring materials and surfaces, playing with the visual properties and the aesthetics of raw materials like wood, glass, fabric and concrete and making them resound with her poetic sense of space and delicate yet firm voice.
Using pigments, moulds or just embracing the intrinsic quality of the materials – as if they were different languages she can effortlessly use – she gives shape to works that are visually both delicate and bold, silent but impossible to go unnoticed. Hellgren’s installations live on a perfect balance, as they embrace and at the same time shape the space around them in harmonious yet unpredictable ways.
The concrete series presented in Gray Terrain – her first solo show after graduating from Art Academy – consists in an installation of pieces created out of concrete, pigments and steel fibres. This body of work has a powerful and unsettling presence, a synesthetic quality which overturns our perception as Fanny Hellgren bends the brutal materiality of concrete into pieces that appear ethereal and almost fragile.
Fanny Hellgren (1992) lives and works in Gothenburg, Sweden. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Fine Art from Valand Academy, where she graduated in 2017. Her work has been exhibited in Sweden, Germany, Estonia and Austria including at Göteborgs Stadsmuseum (SE), Alingsås Museum (SE), Raum Vollreinigung (DE), Neustiftgasse (AUS) and Raja Gallery in Tallinn. Gray Terrain is her first solo show with Nevven Gallery.
Konvergenser is a group show that from its first edition in April 2015 aimed to be an annual exhibition at Nevven Gallery grouping together the Gothenburg based artists that we love the most. The aim since then has been to keep on exploring and celebrating the artists that are contributing to the formation of a new thriving artistic scene in Gothenburg.
This show gathers different generations of established and upcoming artists working with different techniques and exploring very diverse art practices, but all of them showing a central — or significant — interest towards the visual and aesthetic impact of the results, the emotional and irrational part of creation or both. Setting side by side abstraction and figuration, painting and drawing, photography and sculpture — Konvergenser doesn’t want to trace borders between disciplines, but in their juxtaposition this show aims to underline the connections and celebrate the discontinuities between the work of these extremely talented practitioners.
This heterogeneous group of artists is the expression of a strong growing local scene but it is also clearly connected to an equally variegated international new direction in the arts. In the Contemporary art—world we are witnessing to a growing multitude of recognised practitioners and artistic researches that embody a new trust in visual communication, a renewed attention to the act of creation and a new interest towards the exploration of techniques, materials and crafts. This is the direction of the art—world which Nevven represents and exhibits in its national and international embodiments since 2015, and its local expression is the convergence that we want to celebrate and highlight in this annual appointment for our gallery.
This group of artists is working at the same moment and in the same place, in a spatial and temporal concurrence, following different paths and directions but eventually creating works which reflects a new and relevant trend of the international art—world. Konvergenser #3 aims to channel in the neutral space of a gallery this renewed and exciting energy, a zest which is embodied in such proficient ways by the artists of the city where we live and work.
A group show featuring: Amanda Björk, Klara Bothén, Nina Bondeson, Johannes Brander, Trinidad Carrillo, Chuyia Chia, Marie Dahlstrand, Ekta, David Eng, Ellie Engelhem, Martin Formgren, Fanny Hellgren, Jenny Johannsson, Anton Josephson, Björn Körner, Maria Kristofersson, Nils Kristofersson, Merete Lassen, Mattia Lullini, Ivar Lövheim, Eric Magassa, Bea Marklund, Sara Möller, Oskar Nilsson, Åsa Norberg & Jennie Sundén, Ollio, Jeff Olsson, Lars Daniel Rehn, Martin Solymar, Alina Vergnano, Zara Zetterquist, Fredrik Åkum
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Deadbeat Club is a Los Angeles based independent publishing house, founded by photographer Clint Woodside in 2011. The project has now published more than 50 titles and collaborated with a broad group of photographers which includes some of the most recognised and influential American artists of the last 20 years. Out of the simple necessity to create a tangible output for photography, Woodside was able to celebrate the importance of fanzines and independent publishing as a democratic response to the fast- fruition of images nowadays. At the same time, his project has not only managed to regularly produce outstanding publications and collaborate with some of the most important worldwide events for printed matter, but it has been able to gather a true community of photographers around the Deadbeat Club.
The core members that joined Woodside from the very beginning – Deanna and Ed Templeton, Devin Briggs, Grant Hatfield and Nolan Hall — could already exemplify the nature and diversity of this community. They are from different generations, have different styles and directions, but at the same time these photographers — together with the many more that joined the group in these years — share a strong common ground. Embracing a return to analog technology, sharing a fresh and new take on street-photography and coming from either a world of punk music or skateboarding (or both), these artists have formed in time a cohesive and recognisable group. To the extent that one could dare to call this a new movement, or school.
With this idea in mind, the different works composing this exhibition acquire a new force by juxtaposition. The tanned beach characters and unfiltered portraitures of the youth (and not only) populating the works of Devin Briggs, Deanna and Ed Templeton acquire another depth when placed next to the celebratory, epic and carefree pictures by Andrea Sonnenberg, Grant Hatfield and Molly Steele. A lone surfer and a broken arm by Nolan Hall gain new meanings if seen across a subtle diptych by Tobin Yelland. The sometimes desolate images of the American suburban landscapes by Clint Woodside, Jason Vaughn and Dan Monick are somehow echoed by the abstract photos by Thomas Campbell and the pictures by Cheryl Dunn, which are creepy and dreamy at once. In these works the stereotypes, legends and triumphs of the United States of America stand next to the unfiltered depiction of their failures. The dreams and hopes of the rebellious youth pair with their disillusions, to form an astounding portrait of the American society today.
This exhibition revolves around the idea of community, focusing on the group that Deadbeat Club was able to gather in these six years. All united by their shared origin as misfits and punks grown up in the American suburbia, with their diverse stories and artistic paths, these artists are meeting in the special and democratic place that Clint Woodside’s fanzines created for them. Deadbeat Club: We Are All In This. Together is going to be the first—ever exhibition in Sweden by this group of artists and part a world—touring exhibition which places Gothenburg between shows in London and Tokyo. This is an occasion for witnessing some of the most astounding achievements in the American photography of nowadays and — maybe — an even more unique possibility: to observe a new artistic school in formation; the Deadbeat Club.
“To understand, to be intelligent is not our overriding passion. We hope rather to be set in motion.” (Jean-François Lyotard, Libidinal Economy, 2004)
In the theory of art we are often confronted with topics such as the authorship and ownership of the work of art, the relation existing between art and its context and the meaning of the appropriation of public spaces either through public art or illegal interventions. Rope Swings touches and challenges the rules and preconceptions at the core of all these themes but — in its deliberate playfulness — it does so without the need of using any academical language. This collaborative exhibition by Cristina Lina and Andrew Gillman is the result of a project where the meaning of the action finds its answer in the beauty of the reaction, an operation that talks by itself and by its collaborative and inclusive nature just using the voice of its contagious freeing power.
During a period of three months the two British artists put up a number of rope swings in a dozen different locations in the city of London as a series of participatory interventions in the public space. All interventions were unauthorised and all the swings were left in place for other people to find and use. Setting the swings meant often hazardous climbs and conspicuous situations and while Cristina Lina was most usually working on tying and climbing and Andrew Gillman on filming and photographing, the two would also switch roles depending on the situations.
But why rope swings? Because rope swings are unmistakably fun, they are physically exhilarating as you experience a bodily freedom by jumping and swinging which is both scary and fun and beyond this undeniable aspect, these rope swings also had a potent perturbing effect by putting the places where they were installed off—balance. Off—balance in the sense that there was an appropriation of those spaces as the use and expectations planned for those very architectures, infrastructures and landscapes were bent. And, all of a sudden, all the rules and norms and possibilities of what happens are up in the air, and so this moment of freedom, where the world is “off balance” is happening twice: physically in your body, and then publicly as a visible activity.
Rope Swings presents the documentation of what happened in those months in London with stunning filmed and photographic footage, giving us a glimpse of these magic and powerful interventions, and at the same time the installative nature of the show challenges the audience into taking an active part themselves. We are given instructions on how to create ourselves the knots used for rope swings while at least two functioning swings will be put on — one in the city and one inside the gallery — allowing the public to experience in person this bodily thrill, scare and fun. Rope Swings is a contagiously fun show that powerfully spreads a concept that — with its wondrous and joyful unruliness — achieves spiritually but also literally Lyotard’s idea, it sets us in motion.
Cristina Lina (Colchester, 1986) is an British artist based in London with a background in graffiti and mural painting. As she continues to work with this format she is also experimenting with quilt making (that something she describes as “the opposite of spray-painting”), ceramics, performance, print and installation. Lina’s work is explicitly fun, yet at the same time disarming, creating a certain chaos through which new possibilities emerge. She has exhibited at the Art of Nuisance Residency, Stour Space, Stoke—on—Trent, and Somerset House in London. She has held workshops and created playground and open air installations in collaboration with schools, galleries and festivals in the UK and was featured on The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti by Rafael Schacter.
Andrew Gillman (London, 1982) was born in South London where he still lives and works. Gillman got his first 35mm point and shoot camera at 12 years old; the same age he discovered graffiti. From this point, graffiti writing, photography and exploration went hand in hand as all these elements helped shape a specific style, one that explores the unseen side of the City. With a focus on railways in the early years of his work, he has since sought to find the same visual energy in tunnels, rooftops, housing estates and abandoned buildings. Gillman is creating installation pieces made from materials (glass, metal and signs) found in the places he explores and he is now working with documentary filmmaking to look into London pastimes such as pirate radio, bottle digging and banger racing. He has exhibited at The Urban Spree Gallery in Berlin and The Lava Gallery in London.
Ekta is the moniker used by Daniel Götesson for a career now almost two decades long. Artist but also animator, illustrator, designer and muralist, Ekta has been able to challenge categories and definitions translating his personal artistic vision into most of the different languages of visual art and at the same time achieving in every and each field some of the most excellent and respected results in Europe’s recent history.
Götesson’s work is an endless string of variations, progressions, evolutions and involutions, a coherent incoherency of approaches and a recurring process of creation and destruction which evades and completes the contradictory ideas of perfection and failure at the same time. The production of the Swedish artist could be seen as a rhythmical and relentless fluctuation between two extremes. It’s in fact possible to find in his work a craving for boldness, bright colours and perfect composition just next to the desire for its complete destruction by means of thoughtful explorations of the unpleasant, of dirtiness and of the deliberately distasteful. It is in this contrast and the dynamic succession, overlaying and osmosis between these two clashing yet inseparable aspects of Ekta’s work, where is possible to find the origin of some of the most groundbreaking and influential abstract and figurative works of the last decade.
Driven by the need of moving on, of challenging materials, rules and aesthetics, Götesson has never lingered into easy choices or repetitions, but he’s allowed himself to always step on and place his practice into the world of the unexpected which is where an artist can find the best intuitions but also has to embrace uncountable failures. Engaging in a uniquely brave process of creation and destruction, of perfection and dread, Ekta does not search for a breakthrough, for a pleasing solution, a peak, because there is no need for a chorus on a melody which already finds its strength in such incredible uneasy balance and dynamic endless renewal.
No Chorus does not make exception to this paradigm. The show features mainly textile pieces, the latest turn on the Swedish artist’s production. The bright colours and clean cut of these works makes for some of the most designed and pleasant looking works in Ekta’s recent production. Their polished neatness is balanced by an abstract taste which defies simple choices and where the uneven lines find balance out of the least expected compositions. On the other side, juxtaposed to the fabrics, we find a selection of his most recent works on paper to bring a glimpse of the chaotic and unsteady battleground where the lines and shapes populating his textiles originate. No Chorus is the latest step on a path which never ends to astound, a precious chance to witness the work of one of the most unique artists in Europe right now or simply a new opportunity to be surprised by Ekta.
Daniel Götesson (Falkenberg, 1978), known as Ekta, is a Swedish artist, currently based in Gothenburg, Sweden. His works have been exhibited all over Europe, his work has been published in countless art—books and magazines such as The New York Times and Juxtapoz Magazine while his murals can be found across the continent in countries such as Italy, Croatia, Poland and England. Amongst other projects, Götesson has recently worked on several public art commissions of varying scale for various municipalities in Sweden and collaborated with some of the most respected fashion brands and projects as Marni, Converse and The Göteborg International Film Festival. No Chorus is Ekta’s first solo show with Nevven Gallery.
Among the ranks of the new European abstract painters Jeroen Erosie has a special place and position. With a strong background in Graffiti since the Early Nineties and a very personal evolution towards new forms of muralism at the turn of the Century which made of the Dutch artist one of the best examples of pioneering unorthodox evolutions from Graffiti – in the last decade Erosie has established for himself one of the most unique and peculiar abstract styles in Europe.
Erosie’s practice originates from the fluidity and restless process of Graffiti lettering. This discipline – where lines, letters and shapes evolve gradually and almost imperceptibly towards unpredictable results – has been such at the core of his production to leave a unique mark on all his practice. His canvases and collages appear like a paused instant in a restless dynamic, a continuos morphing and over-layering of shapes, lines, textures which one wouldn’t be surprised to find changed in a blink of an eye. Jeroen Erosie’s art is a poetic of rounded forms and geometric lines, a language that channels the natural landscapes of his endless bike rides as much as the architectural geometries of the city’s forgotten spaces which are so dear to graffiti writers. A rare balance, where very physical gestures and intuitive approaches are mixed with an extremely methodic process of creation, reinterpretation and relentless research.
In Graffiti a final work – a tag as much as a throw-up or a full piece – it’s all in the dynamic conjunction of powerful energy and extreme precision, as there is no time than for just one attempt. Method and experience are at the base of such an unforgiving practice and the sketchbook is the first and basic tool of this discipline. Erosie’s sketchbooks are still at the core of his production since the times when letters and pieces where filling them and his current works still finds their origins in those fiercely filled up pages. It is in these sketchbooks that in more then 20 years the Dutch artist’s language has evolved from Graffiti to a personal and unique visual alphabet that nevertheless his abstract nature still keeps the traces of a long evolution from letters and it is precisely with this path in mind that the viewer should read the title of this exhibition.
Almost Legible refers to the language spoken by the shapes that Erosie creates: a lettering faded and morphed into abstraction by time and evolution which keeps subtly reappearing and connoting his works. His current sketchbooks are at the core of this exhibition, there in fact it is where this hidden alphabet manifests itself in its purest form, it is where we find pages and pages filled with a visual discourse, a dialogue within the artist and himself, where his never ending process of research appears most evident. Almost Legible is a unique occasion to explore the connection between rough ideas and Jeroen Erosie’s canvases, murals and collages and to witness the tension between letters and the almost readable abstract shapes which uniquely define the practice one of the most interesting vanguard artists in Europe right now.
The work of Jeroen Erosie (Eindhoven, 1976) is deeply rooted in various disciplines, from graffiti to conceptual art, from illustration to typography. Jeroen connects these seemingly segregated areas in a natural, personal process, reflecting his thoughts, doubts and experiences while constantly evolving his visual output. His work seems to be an ever changing visualisation of thought processes, looking for the friction between intuitive approaches and conceptual frameworks while constantly gaining new insights. He has exhibited and painted in U.S.A., Japan and Europe where his work was shown at Alice Gallery in Bruxelles, Sommerset House in London, Artmosphere Biennale in Moscow, Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven and Le Palais de Tokyo in Paris among many others. His murals appeared in surveys as The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti (YALE University Press, 2013), Trespass. A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art (Taschen, 2010) and Street Sketchbook (Tames & Hudson, 2007). Almost Legible is Jeroen Erosie’s first solo show with Nevven Gallery.
Duda Bebek creates unsettling and at the same time unavoidably fascinating sculptures and paintings that explore the darkest corners of the ultra Contemporary world of the Internet and of our society depicting them with a style which is the one of an Expressionist artist of nowadays. She creates characters and shapes charged with emotion and strength which are merged and almost drenched into the weird landscapes and obscure atmospheres that surrounds them. Using gouache, water, plastic, gips and clay she fearlessly mixes materials moulding them in a language of her own.
Even if her works are undoubtedly figurative — the texture, the composition and transparencies force the eye to see them also in their abstraction, in the juxtapositions of washed out layers and tangible textures. In her work there is in fact a constant interplay between representation and abstract form, the same tension we find in its content, a vertiginous oscillation between reality and fantasy, a neon lighted realm where the flesh becomes an abstract surface which claims our attention in the same way the naked body does.
Duda Bebek work is pleasantly awkward, always provocative and it can trigger irreconcilable thoughts and reactions but never indifference. It is an unapologetic invite to explore an obscure part of ourselves, the one exceeding norms and society rules and that Duda Bebek is capable to deconstruct, reflect upon and depict in a never obvious way, walking the line between this world and a bewildering dream.
Natashas, as the artists explains, revolves around the concept of femininity – if that concept exists – as a living myth. The exhibition is inspired both by the contemporary over sexualised society and Classical art and consists of a series of new sculptures and paintings that confront the way of portraying femininity in the Contemporary social media culture. With Natashas, Duda Bebek explores the contrast between a femininity that appears extremely surreal and even frightening, but at the same time strangely beautiful and almost magical.
Duda Bebek is a Stockholm based Swedish artist whose practice draws inspiration from the contemporary imagery as much as from Classical and Modern art passing through a fascination for the surfaces and forms of abstraction. She studied at Valand Academy in Göteborg and Akademie Der Bild Enden Kunste in Vienna with professor Daniel Richter and graduated in 2012. She has exhibited her work at Galleri Steinsland—Berliner in Stockholm, Gillmeier Rech Gallery in Berlin, Büro Weltausstellung — Wiener Artfoundation in Vienna, Gallery David Risley in Copenhagen and GIFC in New York among the others. Her works appeared in magazines and publications as Purple magazine, Artlovers and Kunstkritikk and hers is the cover artwork of Sista skriket -En bok om mode, erotik och död written by Emma Veronica Johansson and Philip Warkander, published in January 2017. Natashas will be her first solo show with Nevven Gallery.
Konvergenser #2 is a group show that from its first edition (April 2015) aimed to be an annual exhibition at Nevven collecting and grouping together the Gothenburg artists that we love the most.
This show gathers different generations of established and upcoming artists, different techniques, ideas and points of view on art practice underlining the connections and at the same time celebrating the discontinuities and the differences, highlighting the uniqueness and the complexity of Gothenburg’s art scene.
Juxtaposing abstract painting to drawing, photography to sculpture, installation to figurative painting Konvergenser #2 does not want to trace borders between disciplines or simply try to map this city’s beautifully disorientating artistic ground; this show aims instead to channel in the neutral space of a gallery the same energy that we could sense as hidden in the city where we all live and work.
Convergence: at the same time in the same place something happens.
It’s a magical equation and an alignment of stars where energies are released, floating in the air, like dust shining backlit.
A convergence is a shared direction, consciously or unconsciously pursued. It’s in the common objective searched through different medias,
or in the different ideas manifesting through similar execution.
We categorise, we try to define genres and styles but sometimes things doesn’t really need an explanation, it’s all about looking at them, observe the interactions, feel the connections and the incongruences.
A convergence as a gathering of ideas, getting closer and suddenly retract.
It’s about movement, wherever the direction, whatever the motive,
it’s about what escape the definitions,
what tickle our eyes because doesn’t have a clear explanation, a clear affiliation.
It’s the beauty of the unstable balance, of a wavering symmetry.
A group show featuring: Johan Björkegren, Nina Bondeson, Johannes Brander, Chuyia Chia, Marie Dahlstrand, Ekta, David Eng, Camilla Engman, Fanny Hellgren, Jenny Johansson, Ivar Lövheim, Karl—Joel Lrsn, Mattia Lullini, Erika Lindblom, Eric Magassa, Oskar Nilsson, Ollio, Lars Daniel Rehn, Martin Solymar, Linda Spåman, Alina Vergnano, Zara Zetterquist, Fredrik Åkum
Among the new and apparently unfathomable movements-to-be in the current European art we witness a return and a fresh take on abstract art. Its origin is rooted in the New—Muralism of the early ‘00s and its future seems to point towards a clear direction which digests and re-interpret Suprematism, Abstract Expressionism and Constructivism. With a range of directions as variegated as the different artists and nationalities involved but with a solid ground of shared ideas this movement is gaining a relevancy impossible to ignore and Clemens Behr is surely one the most interesting artist being part of it.
Deeply rooted in mural art at the beginning of his career, Clemens Behr has soon parted from it setting a route which is now one of the most unique and recognisable in this new movement. From wall—painting his practice soon turned mostly towards installation and sculpture with a classic yet revolutionary approach compared to the recent art tradition. In fact, the nature of his works is strongly object—related and his relationship with craftsmanship and materials is a focal point of his practice where building materials and bare surfaces like neon lights, wood, metal, glass and mirrors find a new life in their thoughtful juxtaposition.
Behr’s art is minimalistic and chaotic at once, elegant abstract lines emerge from the perfectly balanced but poetically dynamic compositions while the everyday building materials he uses bring a modernist and post—industrialised look to his oeuvre which warms by contrast the soul of his constructions. The Constructivist ideas that inform his production are juxtaposed to a conceptual approach to materials as the austerity of his art language clashes in a unique way with the everyday objects which are bent into art by his hands.
Documented Documents originates from the recent focus that the artist has put on the on—site and often time—limited nature of his installations, slowly moving the attention from the final objects towards the very life of the creation, as to — using Behr’s own words — “emphasise all the states between the idea and the destruction, between loose materials and final product. The aim is to erase the final product and fuse sculpture, documentation, painting and photography. And, as time is a relevant component, I think I am trying to include it in a formal way into the works.”
With a selection of artworks from his most recent production, a number of them created on site and reanalysed and exhibited in their own process through a deep layering of documentation, photography and painting, Documented Documents won’t be only a unique occasion to appreciate for the first time in Gothenburg the practice of Clemens Behr, but also an opportunity to witness a new step in his art production.
Clemens Behr (1985, Koblenz) is a German artist best know for his multimedia and installative approach to Contemporary abstract art. With an already impressive curriculum for a young artist including more than 15 solo shows in the last 6 years and appearances on festivals and surveys in more than 20 Countries, from Australia to Morocco passing from India, Brazil and USA, Behr is surely one of the most interesting uprising new artists in Europe.
Eric Magassa is one of those very few artists whose practice can be impressively diversified in the media as much as solid in its vast complexity. His capacity of working with completely different techniques, of letting himself wander through the realm of experimentation and at the same time never lose his path is something rare to witness.
It can be a chaotic collage of squared, ripped, colourful pieces of paper, a bright pink wooden sculpture created by modifying a traditional African statuette, the picture of an Oceanic idol covered in glossy paper—cuts or a digital photography of a dirty Swedish suburbia but it would anyway clearly belong to the same powerful and poetic visual imagery. The work of Eric Magassa speaks the tongue of colours, surfaces, abstract geometries and figuration, and it draws inexhaustible inspiration form the African art and culture challenging and juxtaposing it with a deep knowledge and insight on the Modern and Contemporary Western art tradition with the most intriguing results.
The ever expanding universe of Eric Magassa is kept together by a restless, deep search for perfection in the composition and by the presence of an almost spiritual ratio in the construction of any image he creates. The uncountable elements that fill his works, the stains, the footprints, the traces of stripped off parts of his collages as much as the erased lines on a wall or a pile of thrash on one of his photographies are all part of a chaotic cosmos that the artist is capable to control with his strong methodic approach while being able to preserve its unique vitality in a dialectic process that is at the origin of the delicate and sometimes brutal complexity of his works.
Sunburns tries to explore this multifaceted, kaleidoscopic approach to art practice offering for the first time a complete overview of all the different media and directions of Eric Magassa’s work. The large canvas collages are juxtaposed to his street photography as his sculptures stands next to his fetich—based paper works. The gallery is transformed and the show has the power of a full room installation. The walls are painted in bright colours and an hand-made flag waves outside, as signalling the entrance into another realm, a world entirely shaped by the interaction and the perfect equilibrium of the pieces, where everything is blessed with the unmistakable touch and unique artistic sensibility of Eric Magassa.
Eric Magassa (Linköping, 1972) spent most of his youth moving back and forth between Gothenburg and Paris with his Swedish mother and French father from Senegalese and Malian descent. As a student Magassa subsequently lived in London and New York to study at Central Saint Martins and The Art Students League of New York. His works stem from experiments with different media ranging from paintings to drawings, sculptures, collages, videos and textiles.
Comments Off on Champis Solutions. In Anticipation of the Unexpected — Phase Two
In Anticipation of the Unexpected directed by Matthew Lessner and produced by Johannes Palmroos is an ongoing video art cycle that explores the deconstruction of narrative and the ensuing impact of context on meaning, belief and reality. Produced in various phases, the cycle consists of an ever growing body of modular short films. These self—referential films adhere to the same self—enclosed aesthetic system, yet are produced without specific narrative intent, and often in a highly spontaneous manner. Meaning within the cycle arises on an evolving and subjective basis when the individual films are presented as a unified whole in a continually randomised order.
Champis Solutions is the second phase in the cycle and it is primarily concerned with imposed systems of belief and their impact on individual desire and possibility. This concept is examined in part through a fictional organisation which promotes a process of systematic unlearning (both mental and physical). This process proposes to free people’s minds, allowing adherents the ability to make their own choices and discover their true nature.
In this entire—room installation the screening of Champis Solutions is expanded upon and completed by the presence of a number of objects utilised in the short films. Kitsch, obscure, and sometimes collectable items are recurrent within the whole of Lessner’s work, from his feature length films to his music videos. In this installation they are exhibited for the first time outside of the screen.
Champs Solutions is the first gallery exhibition for the Sundance awarded director Matthew Lessner. This unusual screening accompanied by the intriguing inclusion of specific objects on display provides the opportunity to experience the work of one of America’s most interesting contemporary young directors in a unique way.
Matthew Lessner (b. 1983) is an American filmmaker and artist currently based in Stockholm, Sweden. His past films (Chapel Perilous, The Woods, By Modern Measure, Darlin Darling) have screened at over 50 film festivals worldwide (including Sundance, SXSW, and Clermont—Ferrand), picking up a number of awards along the way. In addition to narrative work, Lessner has directed over a dozen acclaimed music videos for bands including Dirty Projectors, Sun Araw and Explosions in the Sky. He is currently in post—production on his second feature length film Automatic At Sea.
Unexpected Territory explores the thoughtfully unplanned nature shared by the works of three different artists: Ekta, Eltono and Mattia Lullini. The unexpected is a powerful and ever-present element in their work, either embraced or fought, it becomes one with the concept, it leads the hand and makes the work alive in the struggle of the mind confronted with the irrational pattern of chance.
Ekta’s abstract and semi—abstract works are characterised by an incessantly over-layering and erasing process. His works reflect a constant struggle, the search for balance and the frustration once is reached, the pursuit of the perfect composition and the instantaneous need of destroying it. The unexpected becomes a temporary reconciliation with the work, what makes it finished in it’s deliberate unfinishedness.
Eltono embraces the chance as fundamental part of his process focusing on the interactions with the ever-changing surroundings and the people inhabiting them. His conceptual approach and empiric process implies the impossibility to entirely predict the results, and leads to numberless variations which the artist maps into series of potentially infinite and powerful combinations of geometrical elements.
Mattia Lullini works as if he was cutting and re-assembling pieces from a layered, coloured fantasy, allowing his vision to organically shape itself on the surface. He deliberately lets his hand and his mind be driven by the unconscious, which lead the way to a spontaneous yet accurate composition. His relationship with the unconscious part of the creation it’s so strong that brings him to the point of working in a sort of lucid dreaming way, creating poignant abstract compositions.
Unexpected Territory is an invitation for these three practitioners to confront themselves on a familiar yet never safe territory, to venture further and fearlessly explore — on their own artistic terms — the realm of chance, in an exhibition showing different approaches to abstract art meeting the infinite paths of the unexpected.
Daniel Götesson (b. 1978), known as Ekta, is a Swedish artist, currently based in Gothenburg. His works have been exhibited all over Europe and his murals can be found across the continent in countries such as Croatia, Poland and England. Amongst other projects, Götesson has recently worked on several public art commissions of varying scale for various municipalities in Sweden.
French artist Eltono(b. 1975) worked in Madrid for the last decade, then in Beijing for four years and now lives in southern France. He has worked in the street of more than ninety cities and has shown his works in many world-renowned galleries and museums, including the Tate Modern, The Somerset House, Fundacion Miro and Artium Museum. Over the last twelve years, the development of Eltono’s work in galleries has focused on finding solutions to address the problems of showing public art in private indoor spaces.
Mattia Lullini(b. 1985) is an Italian artist currently based in Gothenburg, Sweden. He has exhibited his works and painted murals across the globe, including in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Brazil, India, China, Taiwan and South Korea, where he was invited for the Busan Biennale 2015. Embracing a multimedia approach Lullini’s artistic production features murals, indoor and outdoor installations, paintings and works on paper.
Johannes Brander’s work is a glimpse to another universe, a psychedelic parallel world inhabited by characters that could belong to a prehistoric cave as much as to a metropolis of the future.
Cosmic shamanism, forbidden rituals, unknown presences and spirits appear in between the palms, surfboards and beach bums which populate Brander’s works. His exhibitions are chaotic, scattered into a thousand of tiny pieces, but there is a plan, an odd order which rules this chaos where the drawings, the paintings on wood and cardboard, the sculptures and the found objects and memorabilia are like small pieces of a galaxy, recomposing his vision while transforming the gallery space.
Orion Bells is the first solo show of Johannes Brander after a residency project brought him to Mexico for three months. Many of the artworks are delicate and almost ephemeral and most of the utilised objects are coming directly from his travelings bringing a warm and extravagant feeling which merges with the atmosphere of Brander’s work, as if this imaginary has always been part of it. The gallery is flooded in a surreal and psychedelic original soundtrack recorded by Brander himself that surrounds everything like a mystic fog.
With shapes growing out of a trembling light stroke as traced by the hand of an old wise, transparencies showing and hiding and something new appearing at every glance, Orion Bells is like a vision in a seance, a portal to a primitive yet futuristic world where everything is soaked in a unique and bewildering mysticism and psychedelia.
Johannes Brander (b. 1978) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gothenburg and has extensively exhibited in Sweden (Galleri Thomassen, Galleri Magnus Winström, Gallery Steinsland-Berliner), in Denmark and Mexico, where in 2015 he had a three months artist residency and a solo show at the Museo de la Ciudad de Querétaro. He also runs the record label Native Parts Records and plays in Skogar and numerous other musical projects.
All around us things happens and disappear, every moment is racing, and future is soon named past. Everything occur between the ninety degrees separating space and time. Our reality follow rules, and some of them we take as answers, for we fear what is unknown. But what if we decide to allow things to float as weightless, to let a second last an hour, and in that time give ourselves the chance to indulge on what we missed?
Suddenly we step in a place where there are no clocks, we walk in a street which leads nowhere and anywhere we want, we are in a room where what we can catch and touch is not just things but an atmosphere. A moment, suspended, leaning on a world that can be real or can belong to dreams, but that now has a door that can be crossed. That door is a picture, a shape, a word and what is behind answers to no rules that we had known before.
Suspended tries to convoy this atmosphere, to channel this tangible feeling through the work of three very different practitioners. What in fact couldn’t easily be shared by abstract painting, street photography and figurative drawing is partaken in a delicate and effortless way by Malin Gabriella Nordin, Andrea Sonnenberg and Alina Vergnano. Among these three extremely talented young female artists, their personal styles and paths there is — in fact — a cross—section, a point of contact in which their unique works touch and it’s there that this exhibition is taking place.
The intersections can’t look as obvious as when these three are juxtaposed. It’s then that incredible things start to happen and the obvious distances seem zeroed. The fading brushstrokes by Malin Gabriella Nordin may complete the solitude of schoolgirl alone on a Japanese beach shot by Andrea Sonnenberg while a word written on a delicate and corrugate ceramic moulded by Alina Vergnano seems reflecting upon it all. Time is still as the imaginary of these three artists slowly bonds and crossfades enhancing on one side each other’s strong personalities, while underlining the unique moment they share.
Malin Gabriella Nordin(Sweden, 1987) lives and works in Stockholm. Nordin’s art is delicately abstract and her visionary works can easily spread in a multidisciplinary way from canvas to paper as in textiles and sculpture. Her language speaks a tongue of shades and delicate asymmetries, her works have a unique atmosphere and her touch is clearly recognisable. From black and whites to the most colourful works her vision is the one of dreams and her works seem like floating and swimming in a liquid universe, where the rules of physics do not apply anymore and where we are allowed only by her paintings, as if peeking from narrow openings. Nordin has exhibited extensively in the past years including solo and collective shows at Gallery Steinsland—Berliner in Stockholm, Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice and Ed. Varie in New York.
Andrea Sonnenberg(U.S.A., 1990) lives and works in San Francisco. Sonneberg’s photography originates straight from the streets of the Bay Area and from a background in tagging and street vandalism with the moniker Teen Witch which worth her being referred as “Killing it” by Barry McGee himself. The atmosphere and world she depicts is the one of the Contemporary American documentary and street photography while her touch remains unique and incredibly strong. Her pictures are in fact brutal and delicate at once, they explore the world around her in the most simple and unfiltered way still irradiating a poetry which is the one only great photographers have. Sonnenberg has exhibited extensively in North American’s galleries and in Europe at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen. In 2011 she’s been featured in the survey Art In The Streets by MOCA Los Angeles.
Alina Vergnano(Italy, 1989) lives and works in Gothenburg. Vergnano’s practice spreads from ink drawings to epic sized murals and delicate ceramics. Her rough lines and delicate touches, her drips and often bare black and white images mirrors a language which is the one of the spirit. Her imaginary has in fact the nature of an extremely personal and yet universal self introspection and capacity to channel in an often astounding way the human and often feminine world. From despair to bliss, her works irradiate a unique expressivity and ability to eliminate the superfluous, not a single brushstroke could be removed from her ink drawings as the words which often accompany her paintings and ceramics complete what it could be easily defined as a delicate poetry by images and a minimalist survey of the spirit. She has exhibited and participated to numerous mural festivals and exhibitions in Europe and Asia, including Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, India and Taiwan.
108, born Guido Bisagni (1978, Alessandria) is an Italian muralist and multidisciplinary artist that works with painting, sculpture and site specific — often musical — installations. His practice derives from a fertile and unique amalgam between Early ‘900 vanguards, ancestral symbolisms and graffiti. He started his artistic path from the abandoned architectures and the neglected and often overlooked industrial spaces so characteristic of his hometown Alessandria and it is in those very places that his painting was able to grow both stylistically and formally making of him one of the first European muralist to deal with abstract forms in the Late Nineties and one of the pioneers of Post—Graffitism.
Originally consisting of mysterious and often large abstract black shapes invading the city spaces and then from Years ‘10 evolving into more delicate mixtures of coloured and often geometrical spots enhancing still mostly pitch black forms, his work has grown throughout the years fertile, recognised and incredibly influential. In the last 15 years 108 has been given the occasion to exhibit extensively around Europe and U.S.A., in such events as The Venice Biennale (Walls, 2007) and juxtaposed to originals from artists as Vassily Kandinsky, Jean Arp e Imre Reiner (La Forma e l’IgnotoEgo Gallery [Lugano, 2015]).
Dark while delicately coloured, impulsive while balanced, detailed but extremely simple, his artworks has the nature of dreams and spells. They draw the observer into a challenging place where the shadows take physical form and the shapes, in their curves and angles, become like words of poetry. 108’s art has in fact a timeless nature and a brutal and gentle touch at once that gives to his artworks a impalpable, warm and magic soul which feels as old and mysterious as petroglyphs while being incredibly refined and delicate as a philosophy in geometries.
In Svärtans Orolighet 108 presents a new series of works that explores his current art but with an approach that goes back to the very roots of its production. With a definitely experimental and free-form attitude and working mostly on paper, his artworks for the show revolve around the colour black and the very monochrome forms which have been the ideas at the core of his art from the very beginning. Svärtans Orolighet is also 108 first solo exhibition in Sweden and in a Scandinavian Country.
Stafett is a two month long residency program which has involved four guest artists and two guest curators working at Nevven between June the 7th and August the 2nd.
Every artist, with the guidance and the support of the guest curators, has been invited to work for a period of two weeks in the Nevven studio space and, after having created and installed their work, handed over the space to the next artist as in a relay race — a Stafett. The aim was to create a collective exhibition organically growing and developing as the artists’ residencies were following one another.
As in a Stafett, the artists had to start their residency from the position that was left by the previous participant, therefore being forced to adapt their artistic intentions in a way that could either complement and complete — or deliberately work against and clash with— the existing piece(s).
This interference and limitation are at the very core of the project, forcing the artists into a creative process which, besides challenging them to respond to the physical space of the gallery, demands that they also take into consideration the other practitioners and their work.
The final exhibition is the result of a collective effort of the artists and the curators, a path crossed together to create something bound by an organic, strong interaction, where every piece is connected and at the same time completed by the others.
Nevven is proud to present and celebrate the results of this project re-opening to the public with the group show Stafett which will salute the incredible efforts and unique energies gathered by these 4 artists and 2 guest curators who lived Nevven during the last two months.
David Von Bahr (Göteborg, 1992. 1st resident) finds his inspiration mainly in urban settings in both Sweden and abroad. In his painting as well as photography, the base of his creations are the encounters with people from different cultures and social environments. Through intuition and attention to detail, colour, and shapes, he wants to create pieces completely open to the interpretation of the beholder.
Fanny Hellgren (Göteborg, 1992. 2nd resident) At the same time as working sculptural and site specific, Fanny Hellgren’s artistic practice is based in painting. Colour is her main tool, but the material also plays an important role which are often found on the street or among trash and garbage. She constantly returns to the collage and has an interest in seeing what people associate to the materials, its history, decomposition and symbolic values.
David Eng (Göteborg, 1984. 3rd resident) David Eng works mainly with photography and through an often spontaneous expression he examines how it can be a mirror of reality and at the same time a lie about it. Eng’s interested in photography’s mechanical depiction and the distortion of familiarity is reoccurring in his work – to view and reproduce what is visually recognisable without reducing it to something known and manageable.
Maria Hilmersson-Landgren (Göteborg, 1993. 4th resident) Though being a multidisciplinary artist, sound is central to Maria Hilmersson-Landgren’s artistic practice. The goal is to give the beholder an experience effecting their entire body and for them to feel sound through all senses. Reoccurring in Maria’s work is the wish to put light on a silence and the relation between sight and hearing, how to effect these senses and place them against each other. She also wants to examine the boarder between the real and unreal. By changing an original sound, and make it no longer concordant with what is being seen, the sound becomes something bigger and creates a shifting of time and space.
Nejd (Amanda Eriksson and Jonna Kihlsten, Göteborg, 2015. Co-curators in residency) works to create places in which art based upon different perspectives, experiences and forms of expression can come together and create a temporary space. Whilst the format remains fluid, both in terms of content and medium, what remains constant is the underlying desire to challenge dominant ideas and hierarchies, and an inherent suspicion of anxious, worn-out notions.
Convergence: at the same time in the same place something happens.
It’s a magical equation and an alignment of stars, where energies are released, floating in the air, like dust shining backlit.
Convergence is a shared direction, pursued consciously or unconsciously. It’s a common objective searched through different media or different ideas manifesting through similar execution.
We categorise, we try to define genres and styles but sometimes things doesn’t really need an explanation, it’s all about looking at them, observe the interaction, feel the connections and the incongruences.
A convergence as a gathering of ideas, getting closer and suddenly retract. It’s about movement, wherever the direction, whatever the motive, it’s about what escape the definitions, what tickle our eyes because doesn’t have a clear explanation, a clear affiliation.
It’s the beauty of the unstable balance, of a wavering symmetry.
Nevven is proud and at same time astonished to start to exist and to have gathered this amazing number of artists that will exhibit together for […] the first of our exhibitions. A gathering of what we love the most in Gothenburg, the idea of connecting lines in a common place and let them unfold, a convergence.
A group show featuring: Erik Berglin, Johannes Brander, Marie Dahlstrand, David Eng, Jakob Feltsen, Daniel Ekta Götesson, Hlg, Jenny Johansson, Jonathan Ollio Josefsson, Karl-Joel Lrsn, Mattia Lullini, Eric Magassa, Lars Daniel Rehn, Ida Sundin Asp, Tommy Sveningsson, Erik Svetoft, David Von Bahr, Alina Vergnano, Fredrik Åkum
Wed, Thu, Fri: 12:00 – 18:00
Sat, Sun: 12:00 – 16:00 And by appointment