Including collaborative works with Matias Faldbakken, Allison Katz, Stewart Uoo and Josh Smith
Curated by Martin Clark and Steinar Sekkingstad
Fredrik Værslev's exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall is his largest solo show to date and comprises two distinct series of new paintings. One group of works will be integrated into Bergen Kunsthall's modernist gallery spaces as a meticulously planned architectural installation of painted canvases. For the other, Værslev will collaborate with several international artists, including Matias Faldbakken, Stewart Uoo, Josh Smith and Allison Katz, on his ongoing series of “shelf-paintings.”
When encountering a new exhibition by Fredrik Værslev, there is by now an established expectation towards his work: a distanced painterly practice where the action—painting—is constantly held at arm's length. When exhibited, his works can often appear as if on a stage, performing or acting a role, or taking on the part of an architectural or functional object, deployed in direct response to their environment. For his exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall, however, these new works occupy what at first appears a more traditional display format.
Værslev has created a group of works based on images of sunsets that he has photographed on his iPhone from aeroplane windows. These banal but seductive images provide a starting point for a series of new multi-canvas paintings that address the condition, production and status of painting today, as well as the ongoing legacies of Greenbergian modernism and ideas of abstraction, figuration and the painterly sublime. Through their mechanistic, serial production—employing industrial spray paint and trolleys normally used for road marking and sports fields—they complicate ideas of surface, gesture and originality, whilst at the same time alluding to a more functional language of municipal murals, urban graffiti or painted hoardings. Installed in a bespoke architectural intervention in the galleries of Bergen Kunsthall, they at once evoke the works of artists as diverse as Mark Rothko, Edvard Munch and Michael Asher, as well as a kind of theatrical scenography or civic decoration.
The “shelf-paintings” are part of an ongoing series Værslev began whilst still a student at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main in 2008–09. Initially developed after a conversation with the artist's mother, and her desire to find a way to incorporate Værslev's work into the environment of her home, the works attempt to accommodate painting as both artwork and object. Addressing issues of display, authorship, appropriation and domesticity, the shelf-paintings are produced in collaboration with Værslev's friends and peers. Værslev provides a simple wooden shelf structure, which the collaborating artist is free to intervene with as they wish.
In all of Værslev's work he can be seen to navigate between various different painterly traditions, as well as the wider legacies of conceptual art and institutional critique. He demonstrates how painting continues to offer the potential for personal expression, as well as conceptual and intellectual investigation. He treats the painting as an object in line with other objects, and his works are often created through more or less laborious, serial, collaborative and deterministic processes, where time itself, as well as external factors including site, space and even the weather, become active co-creators in the making of the work.
The exhibition will travel to Le Consortium in Dijon, France, November 18, 2016–February 19, 2017.
Fredrik Værslev (b. 1979) lives and works in Vestfossen, Norway, and Drammen, Norway.
Also opening in NO.5:
May 26–August 14
In NO.5 Bergen Kunsthall revisits selected artworks and exhibitions, previously presented elsewhere in the world. Initiated in response to the increasing acceleration of both the production and reception of art, NO.5 provides an opportunity to slow down, focus on, and look again at particular works, exhibitions or fragments of exhibitions.
Gianfranco Baruchello was born in Livorno, Italy in 1924. Throughout his long, and on-going career, the Italian artist—regarded by his mentor Marcel Duchamp as his only possible heir—has worked in a vast array of mediums, spanning painting, sculpture, assemblage, film, video and experiments in art and agriculture.
The works on display in this exhibition were all made between 2013 and 2015, and were originally shown last year as part of a larger solo exhibition at Massimo De Carlo Gallery in London. Including a single sculptural work, Murmour, and a series of nine box constructions—each conceived as a spatial model that encloses a world of its own—they record Baruchello's fragmented and highly personal ruminations on various subjects, from anatomy to history.
Across all of the works tiny figures, words, characters, and anatomical landscapes create a complex and highly idiosyncratic language. Thoughts are intricately mapped and diagrammatically portrayed around larger shapes that seem to evoke human organs: a gestural and guttural exploration of the innards of the intellect. These fragments offer a narrative that tackles the monstrous power of the connections between the body and the brain, the mind and the viscera, opening a discourse on the primordial broth of thoughts and feelings that each of us is subject to.
With support from Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Oslo.
Gianfranco Baruchello (b. 1924) lives and works in Rome and Paris.
May 28, 1–2pm
Fredrik Værslev in conversation with Le Consortium curator Anne Pontégnie
June 9, 7–8pm
Book launch: Fredrik Værslev All Around Amateur, with a lecture by Ina Blom
June 18, 2–3pm
Luca Cerizza on Gianfranco Baruchello
All Around Amateur
Texts by Ina Blom, Martin Clark, Anne Pontégnie and Steinar Sekkingstad
Published by Bergen Kunsthall, Le Consortium and Sternberg Press, 2016
This new artist publication, designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio, comes in two different versions, each containing a sequence of 1:1 scale images, scanned directly from the surfaces of eight of Værslev's new paintings. Each painting produces a total of 80 scanned images, reproduced in the book left to right, top to bottom. The two versions of the book contain scans of the first four and second four paintings respectively, complementing each other by together comprising the full series of eight paintings, reproduced across 640 full size images.
Text by Luca Cerizza
Published by Bergen Kunsthall and available for download as PDF at www.kunsthall.no from May 26.
Originating from the “Bergen Biennial Conference” in 2009 and its critical thinking around the biennial format, the Bergen Assembly seeks to devise alternative timeframes, densities, and relational economies of public presentation and perception today. Pointing to the multitude of practices in contemporary art and the research surrounding it, while experimenting with the need for an overall thematic coherence across the event, the 2016 edition offers three distinct propositions, expanded and developed in different temporal registers by the artistic directors: Tarek Atoui, freethought, and PRAXES. Exhibitions, live events, and publications are continually introduced and produced throughout the year, with a convergence of activities taking place from September 1–October 1, 2016.
In March 2013, artist and composer Tarek Atoui presented WITHIN as a three-month-long composition for the Sharjah Biennial 11, developed out of the conversations and collaboration between Atoui, Paris based curators Gregory Castéra and Sandra Terdjman (Council), and the teachers and students of Al Amal School for the Deaf.
For Bergen Assembly 2016, Atoui is continuing WITHIN with the intention of learning from the Deaf to re-visit established and conventional ways of experiencing sound, holding concerts, writing, and conducting performances. The project will materialize in several forms, from imagining and constructing musical instruments that address both Deaf and hearing persons, to rethinking concert situations and their architectural components, to working on new techniques of field recording and discerning sonic environments.
In collaboration with fifteen institutions from Bergen, Atoui will be hosting a series of performances and concerts that will put these instruments into action, as well as the knowledge and the know-how generated by this process. Approaching profound deafness as both an ability and a starting point, Council will gather a collection of pluridisciplinary objects and practices that extend the notion of hearing beyond audition, presenting an exhibition that functions as an alternative to the modern conception of hearing.
freethought (Irit Rogoff, Stefano Harney, Adrian Heathfield, Massimiliano Mollona, Nora Sternfeld, Louis Moreno) is a collective working in public research and in curating concepts of urgency.
freethought will focus on its current collective interest: infrastructure. By looking at many different understandings of this key word—from legacies of colonial and early capitalist systems of governance to current conditions of the financialization of the cultural field to the subversive possibilities of thinking and working with infrastructures as sites of affect and contradiction—”infrastructure” emerges as the invisible force which constitutes culture today. This large-scale investigation aims to wrest the term away from the language of planners and technocrats and put it to creative and critical use within the cultural sphere.
Throughout 2015–16 freethought is leading a programme of public seminars, invited guest lectures, artists, and independent research in Bergen with the intention of developing a collective body of research and insights. This research, an interrogation of infrastructure on a local and global scale of ecology, finance, administration, labour, communication, hospitality, and acts of assembling, will culminate in a programme of exhibitions, discursive platforms, publications, and artistic commissions for the Bergen Assembly, opening September 1, 2016.
At PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art in Berlin 2013–15, Rhea Dall and Kristine Siegel presented half-year cycles of consecutive exhibitions, publications, and events, revolving around two unassociated artistic practices. For the Bergen Assembly, PRAXES expand the modular investigations to a full year and episodically inhabit a variety of sites throughout Bergen in an itinerant material discussion around the practices of Lynda Benglis and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd.
Lynda Benglis (b. 1941, US) was first recognized in the sixties with her poured latex and foam works, a precise retort to her minimalist contemporaries. Continuing her pioneering practice, vibrant biomorphic shapes in a bold range of materials express a deep concern with the physicality of form and how it affects the viewer. In Bergen, Benglis’s prolific production is distilled into single-work installations, reconstructions, group shows, and one-night screenings.
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd (b. 1973, UK) celebrates popular culture. She has adopted elements from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Miyazaki’s Catbus, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in exuberant collective performances and films merging irreverence and joie de vivre. In Bergen, Chetwynd will create a new work presented in installments throughout the year, while a series of exhibitions-events probe her long-term involvement with social anthropology, humor, and performance traditions.
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