Critics’ Picks

Johan Thurfjell, Noon (detail), 2013, engine, magnifying glass, twigs, lamp, springs, wood, MDF, 55’ 1/10” x 22’ 4/5” x 21’ 3/10”.

Stockholm

Johan Thurfjell

Galerie Nordenhake | Stockholm
Hudiksvallsgatan 8
May 16 - July 20

Swedish artist Johan Thurfjell is a master of visual deceptions so subtle and charming that they fill his multimedia installations with gusts of poetic longing and reverie. Like the slow progression of a solitary day, the exhibition “From Here” unfolds within three interconnected rooms that guide the viewer from the daylight of the gallery’s entrance to the twilight of its concluding space. The latter is lit only by the aura of dim lights anchored behind a suite of works on paper, whose images are created solely by the gentle application of varnish. Titled with the time of day captured in each image, such as the flanking 09:44, 2013, and 07:01, 2013, these ethereal works depict the sun-drenched recesses of spare rooms inhabited by the artist. The varnish alters the fibers of the paper, transforming it into a translucent medium that illuminates the gesture of each delicately painted stroke.

Adjacent to the varnish paintings, the sculpture Noon, 2013, presents a similar scene from the artist’s country home, but here the sun’s warmth consists of a mysterious swath of emanating light that defines the shape of an unseen window and caresses the interior wall and floor of a small wooden model of a room. The shadows of tree branches sway in the artificial sunlight. Thurfjell achieves this magical illusion through the simplest of means; concealed in the model are tiny branches on springs, a gyrating motor, a cut-out form of the window, and a single tiny light source. To the uninitiated, the movement of the branches seems to be caused by bodies walking across the gallery floor. The scene is oneiric and ghostly, revealing its realness over time in the infinite variety of the branches’ articulations. Like all of the works in the exhibition, Noon explores luminosity as an embodiment of memory and desire by registering the invisible essence of light. Thurfjell’s exhibition is a deeply refreshing and unpretentious encounter with the pleasures of vision.