FREDRIK VÆRSLEV: "Nobody's Chant"
17.04.-16.05.2015 / Preview: Friday 17.04.2015 / 19.00-21.00
STANDARD (OSLO) is proud to announce an exhibition of new works by Fredrik Værslev. Entitled "Nobody's Chant", this is the fourth exhibition with the gallery for the Vestfossen-based artist, presenting a group of seven paintings reflecting as much on restrictions as celebrating the unrestrained in terms of mark-making and painting.
"Thus, we rarely achieve architectural monumentality when we try; our money and skill do not go into the traditional monumentality that expressed cohesion of the community through big scale, unified, symbolic, architectural elements. Perhaps we should admit that our cathedrals are the chapels without the nave and that, apart from theaters and ball parks, the occasional communal space that is big is a space for crowds of anonymous individuals without explicit connection with each other."
- Robert Venturi, "Learning From Las Vegas", 1972
Fredrik Værslev's fourth exhibition at STANDARD (OSLO) will include seven paintings, all employing the same method and material: spray paint on raw linen. While the material does not set this particular body of works apart from other paintings shown in the previous three exhibitions with the gallery, they still make use a whole other apparatus of application. Since 2012, Værslev started employing a paint trolley - identical to that used for the delineating roads, parking lots or sports field - to make his mark onto canvases laid out flat on the studio floor. As would be the case with previous series of paintings, Værslev identifies an intersection between restrictive parameters and reduced, but still real, room for subjectivity to function as conditions for compositions. Essentially, the trolley does not permit other than straight lines and the spray can is controlled from a handle that offers little potential for precision. Consequently, the first few attempts at this series would take the shape of bare-boned drawings, executed in a single colour and completed with a limited number of movements leaving a minimal amount of marks on an otherwise blank canvas.
Since then, Værslev has spent time taking apart this apparatus, to disturb any sense of 1:1 relationship between machine, method and marks. Gone are the stickman-like compositions of earlier works, that emphasized the element of drawing, and what takes its place is a far more laborious layering of less precise and less predictable marks. The group of four paintings that is installed in the largest exhibition space appears to have had the artist employing a whole other starting point. After laying a foundation of red, yellow and white, the canvases are soaked with turpentine, then scrubbed down with steel scrubs, before soaked again and the paint kept in place while drying up with a hand-held window squeegee. Onto this foundation the artist applies layers of abrupt lines in bold red, yellow and white. And while this element of drawing occasionally adds a distinct sense of rhythm - reminding one of the earlier emphasis on drawing - there are as many occasions where they end up diffusing - the paint dripping as the nozzle clogs up - and collapsing the spatial relationship between foreground and background.
Without making an advocation for any link with arte povera, Værslev's works are motivated from an economy of means and economy of production: not only in terms of employing a lo-tech tool of painting, but also taking an interest in a possible nivellation between mark-making of painting and mark-making of a parking lot (particularly, if the latter is done with less ability and more accident). The prosaic and poetic are merged in such a manner with the sole painting occupying the central exhibition space, where the painting is as much monotone as in dialogue with a tradition of painting the monochrome; a single colour, a staccato set of moments all brushed down to give the same translucent quality to the wall of disconnected blue marks.
Fredrik Værslev (born 1979, Moss) lives and works in Vestfossen and Drammen. Recent and upcoming exhibitions include Museo Marino Marini, Firenze; CAC - Passerelle, Brest; Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York; Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmö; The Power Station, Dallas; Luminar Cité, Lisbon; Gio Marconi, Milano
Installation photography: Vegard Kleven