Ytkraft—Ung Dansk Skulptur

Malmö Konsthall

In the last four or five years, a whole new group of Danish sculptors has emerged on the Scandinavian art scene. “Ytkraft—Ung dansk skulptur” (Surface power—Young Danish sculpture) is a group show exhibiting eight of the most prominent members of this new generation. Perhaps the most characteristic feature of their work is that it neither seeks a further expansion of the sculptural field nor tries to break down the barrier between art and life. Its originality resides, instead, in an effort to destabilize the classical and modernist conceptions of sculpture from within. The work, not its relation to the site or the context, is once more placed in focus.

These pieces represent a return to sculpture as movable, autonomous bodies in space. They are delimited, three-dimensional corpora, but they lack practically all other classical, as well as modernist, virtues: unity, harmony, closedness, center, and solidity. Rather, they are hollow objects that do not try to hide their simulated corporeality. They refuse to create an illusion of depth and substance, of an inner, preconstituted meaning, intention, or essence.

Elisabeth Toubro’s fractured or transparent structures have the character of signs. Written rather than molded, they are discursive and meant to be read rather than just seen. Her forms have fragments of “language,” signals inscribed into their surfaces. Their meaning is not subject to any general code; rather, it is a nonstable effect generated by the local rules of the differentiated surface itself. Truls Melin’s simulated readymades are like playful, absurdist antimonuments. His Aspirant, 1989, consists of a red toy airplane partly contained within a red box, the whole mounted on aluminum legs. Melin invites us to regard the commonplace with the eyes of a child, thereby transforming the world into an alogical wonderland.

From afar, Henrik B. Andersen’s Ostranenie,1989, might look like a classical monument of an antelope on a pedestal. But the realism is not real, and neither is the pedestal. The animal’s legs have been “frozen” into a cubic block, decorated with two half-spheres on either side. This clash between biomorphic and geometric form makes the sculpture like some artful meteorite fallen from the sky. By and large, these young Danish sculptors seem to have found a niche very much their own. Theirs is classical sculpture blasted from within.

Lars O. Ericsson