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OIL AND WATER: LARS O. ERICSSON, WITH “OIL ROOMS,” A PROJECT FOR ARTFORUM

AMONG THE SELF-PORTRAITS at the Munch-museet in Oslo there is one showing the aged Norwegian artist standing in a room between a faceless clock and a bed. Behind Munch’s back we see his studio full of paintings.1 The atmosphere is almost desperate, dense with angst, but completely without self-pity. It is an image charged with symbolic tension. Time is running out, only sleep and death await.

Per Barclay’s work shares something of this unease. His sculptural installations often resemble artificial landscapes, strange, deserted places belonging to some unknown culture. Materially they are heterogeneous—of wood, iron, glass, stone, motor oil, water. Structurally they are polycentric, fractured, and paradoxical. Their subjectivity is destabilized rather than expressively personal. Instead of steaming heat, there is salient coolness. Yet they remind me of Munch.

For Munch is “the painter of

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