February 11th, 2011
Artist: Fredrik Værslev
Venue: Standard, Oslo
Exhibition Title: “I’m gonna keep a happy thought and assume this is just a negotiation tactic”
Date: January 14 – February 12, 2011
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of the artist and STANDARD (OSLO), Oslo. Photos by Vegard Kleven.
STANDARD (OSLO) is proud to announce the opening of its first solo exhibition with Norwegian artist Fredrik Værslev. Comprising of five works from his recent series of ‘terrazzo paintings’, the exhibition builds on Værslev’s interest in the relationship between the monochrome painting and the monotony of ornament.
“Everything that usually serves representation and illusion is left to serve nothing but itself, that is abstraction; while everything that usually serves the abstract or decorative – flatness, bare outlines, all-over or symmetrical design – is put to the service of representation. And the more explicit this contradiction is made, the more effective in every sense the picture tends to be.”
- Clement Greenberg
Fredrik Værslev’s paintings seem to exist within the triangle that constitutes the essence of suburban property: the villa, the garden and the garage. Returning to his childhood home after completing studies in Malmö (Sweden) and Frankfurt am Main (Germany), Værslev initiated a series of paintings that loosely has been referred to as ‘terrazzo paintings’. At the basis is Værslev’s interest in the material that is ‘terrazzo’ and the making of it: a layering of marble chips mixed with clay, water and goat’s milk that is repeatedly sanded, reduced and layered again. These paintings would clumsily, yet convincingly copy the appearance of such a material onto the canvas. Or more precisely: Værslev would attempt at translating the disintegration of such a surface that would appear with time, while nonetheless aiming at presenting something more nuanced than a mere trompe l’oeil.
Each of these paintings would be executed using standard industrial spray paint on raw linen (with various nozzles and various techniques of application) to establish a matrix that would then permit to be intervened. During and after this layering of colours, Værslev would apply leftover products found in the garage of his parents: house paint as well as corrosion protective spray, lynol, rust remover, fixative, tar and liquid tarmac. As the spray paint instantly dries these products would allow to remove, reduce or rinse the painting to either cancel or add mistakes – setting colours and gestures at odds with the logical confinements of terrazzo. Hence the process of producing these paintings could be described as one of doing, then undoing and then again redoing. Due to fumes from the sprays and various chemicals Værslev would make these paintings outdoor – laying the canvases on the ground in the garden and thus also subjecting the works and the work process to a set of variables beyond control. The outcome may be regarded as two sets of ornaments forced upon each other: the plain and low-cost ornament of the terrazzo and the ornament of chance. While maintaining an interest in craftsmanship, any notions of composition are here negotiated by the self-imposed restrictions of the motif circle and restrictions that weather and temperature would impose. Værslev would systematically experiment by leaving works in progress out in the snow and subject paint and chemical products to frost to observe their alteration in colour and quality.
Adding to this element of empirical research is also an interest in threshold values of the spectacular when applying the unspectacular or such an evenness of expression as a basis. Værslev allows the works to balance between description and deviance, making concerns over representation secondary to discussions of ornament in regards to the monochrome painting. Værslev identifies the non-presence of information that motivated the pioneering of the monochrome painting within the non-hierarchic monotony of ornament. The layering of multi-coloured drips in Værslev’s painting share the logic of the flat power spectral density of ‘white noise’, resulting in paintings confronting the viewer in conflicting ways: equally dense, equally dizzying and equally dull.
Fredrik Værslev (b. 1979, Moss, Norway) graduated last year with an MFA from The Art Academy in Malmö, Sweden / Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. Recent and upcoming exhibitions include solo exhibitions at Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmö and Circus Gallery, Berlin as well as “Printemps de septembre” in Toulouse (curated by Anne Pontegnie). Værslev’s works will also later this month be included in a two-artists presentation (with Matias Faldbakken) at Art Los Angeles Contemporary in Santa Monica.