The large-scale abstract paintings of Fredrik Værslev confront established conventions, definitions and limitations within the medium of painting. Using both traditional and industrial materials and techniques, he creates compositions that draw influence from diverse sources including Abstract and Minimialist painting and graphic design For Bonner Kunstverein Værslev will present two new groups of works that demonstrate the artist’s continued investment in painting as process. The series entitled ‘Sail Paintings’ are assembled from variously worked pieces of canvas that have been brought together to produce compositions reminiscent of a boats sails upon monochrome backgrounds. Værslev cuts up both new and old paintings, and then combines different sections together to create new compositions. This process of deconstruction and reconstruction produces both a fragmentation of aesthetic and content in the paintings. The imagery depicted on the sails references both maritime iconography and graphic design. For this suite of works Værslev has created a lexicon of symbols, text motifs and logos, which he labels as ‘bad graphic design’, and are repeated across the series of canvases. These include: the year of the artist’s birth, his initials, his surname, an anchor and rope symbol, modified elements from the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen logo, and a fictional logo for Bonner Kunstverein. Using silk-screen the artist overlays these images on top of one another, in various colours and sizes. Værslev then combines them with various coloured stripes from an earlier series of works – the ‘Canopy Paintings’. As a result, the works oscillate between abstraction, representation and decoration The nine ‘Garden Paintings’ on display belong to a series of works that Værslev has been working on intensely since 2012. These paintings consist of standard wooden slats that are hung on the wall with metal supports, which could be read as a suite of minimalist paintings or a sculptural installation. In these works however, Værslev makes reference to the material language of architecture within urban and suburban environments – a subject that is of long-standing interest to him. The slats he uses are readily available in hardware stores and can be witnessed in a variety of outdoor DIY projects – sun decks, fences, storage boxes etc. – in urban environments. For this set of ‘Garden Paintings’ the wooden slats have been coated with ten layers of specialist boat varnish (sanded back and polished between each layer). This is a method of restoration used in the maintenance of old wooden boats and benches in museums, and produces a highly reflective surface. This action means that the works reflect whatever is placed in front of them. In this installation it is the ‘Sail Paintings’ and thus a direct dialogue evolves between the two distinct bodies of work.
TAN LINES is co–commissioned with Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen and Fondazione Giuliani, Rome. A catalogue to accompany the exhibition will be published in the spring by Sternberg Press. The exhibition is generously supported by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway. The exhibition at Bonner Kunstverein is Værslev’s first major solo exhibition in Germany, and is generously supported by the Norwegian Embassy, Berlin. Fredrik Værslev (b.1979, Drøbak, lives and works in Dikemark/NO and Vestfossen/NO) has held solo exhibitions at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen (2017); Kunsthal Aarhus; Le Consortium, Dijon; Bergen Kunsthall (2016); Museo Marino Marini, Firenze; CAC Passerelle, Brest (2015); The Power Station, Dallas (2014). His work is held in several major collections including the Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo.