Indipendenza Studio is pleased to present Sunny Side Up, Fredrik Værslev’s first solo exhibition in Italy.
In his latest body of work, Fredrik Værslev has turned his attention to an often overlooked, yet all-pervasive component of the visual grammar and basic iconography of suburbia. Grammars and iconographies that the artist continues to rigorously scrutinize and also to vividly immerse himself in.
These new paintings make immanent the diagram, look, and temporality of the canopy. In suburban residential areas canopies shelter, hide, promote, embellish and mark houses, row houses, duplexes, apartment buildings and blocks. Alien canvas-like patches, shells and surfaces attached to an architecture that is often prefabricated, canopies are accessories that both serve as arbitrary outside décor as well as highly functional prostheses that facilitate certain operations carried out by these buildings.
Anyone familiar with suburban communities know that these canopies also form assemblages in and by themselves; patterns, fabrics, colors, formats, and striations - and that these, in turn, engage in competing compositions.
Which ornamental-facilitating canopies are able to elevate their houses, owners and neighborhoods to a position that solicits and communicates good taste, money, and social status? And which ones perform the inverse actions? Ugly, untidy and tarnished ones - or those simply in bad taste - can negatively affect huge residential areas both socially and financially.
But even more significantly: what are the intrinsic contests, skirmishes and battles that are enacted among these aggregates of patches themselves? What are the desires and affordances of the patches that regulate the light effects and gazes of the neighborhood at the same time as they also deflect and reflect the visual furrows of their adjacent canopies? Following a rigorously contingent logic of their own - these paintings by Værslev behave like a neighborhood of competing canopies. They are vectors of a non-coherent mess, distorting and smudging the borders of control, of who does what and what thinks when. They are black holes - one cannot know whether they are in themselves, by themselves, or what they contain. If one was to be near, or inside, one of these, the very inquiry would be suspended indefinitely due to gravitational time dilation. They absorb the abrasion they are subjected to, or - and this undecidability is a function of the non-coherent “mess” alluded to above - given to.
The “vision” of the painter Værslev is, however a reticent one and verges on the pure, non-phenomenal, and material. It is a form of vision devoid of any distinctive reflexivity on behalf of some imagined subject/object dualism. The aesthetic itinerary of a canopy is one marked by a somewhat unattainable moment of decision. A moment that coincides with its deterioration.
This is well-known to anyone paying the slightest attention to one’s own attire: that gratifying moment when the everyday wear of, say, a pair of bespoke brogues, has transformed them, if only ever so slightly, from their unspoiled, box-fresh state and brought about that perfect, seemingly effortless, slightly frayed look. Especially when set in motion together with other garments, or, for that matter, desires. However, in the case of canopies that exact moment usually seems to us too fleeting and insignificant to invest aesthetic pleasure in. Maybe the canopies are just too far from our own bodies. Be that as it may, such a moment is disseminated throughout Værslev’s latest paintings. Here you find an idealized, yet wholly immanent process of fragmentation, damaging, fracturing, a fading in and fading out that ultimately implies a defacement of the different moments of visual production. These huge patches of canvas are left out on the artist’s studio roof, abused and beaten up by spray paint, tape, pollution, exhaust fumes, rain, snow, winds, the moon, sunlight, and sometimes placed side by side, on top of each other, bundled, some times bristling, snapping on, and at, each other, emitting those sharp, biting sounds that one can hear from the sails of a yacht where the crew and captain no longer are paying attention. The clamorous sound of a quiet neighborhood at night. Through this process, the canopies come across as recalcitrant (photo) prints (of) the physical world: the ambiance, the abrasion, and even the “deep” ecology of such a world, is here at once de-contextualized and made legible through the suction of an unilateral vision of sorts. A vision that is unilateral because there’s no who or what here: there’s just flat dilation. Perhaps the defining modus operandi of paintings like these is something like a refurbished disappointment. “Styles have become objects in history,” says François Laruelle, perhaps leading us to believe that this disappointment shoots out from a generic subject. That is, a clinamen preceding individuation or even anthropization. Here, a dilapidated form of temporality, or dense materiality for that matter, is stretched and distended across the pictorial plane, crisscrossing and de-saturating its decontextualized depth and space.
Peter J. Amdam